Advertising, Subjectivity and the Nineteenth-Century Novel: by S. Thornton

By S. Thornton

From 1830 to 1870 ads introduced in its wake a brand new realizing of ways the topic learn and the way language operated. Sara Thornton provides a very important second in print tradition, the early reputation of what we now name a 'virtual' global, and proposes new readings of key texts via Dickens and Balzac.

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Additional resources for Advertising, Subjectivity and the Nineteenth-Century Novel: Dickens, Balzac and the Language of the Walls

Sample text

In the last analysis it is, of course, just a joke. But the act of joking tells us certain things. The joke of course is in the sudden absurdity of the vision that a quite ordinary sentence can throw up if read outside the intentions of the author (who merely wishes to sell casks and bottles to families), and not in the political reading of that absurdity; Punch readers were obviously not meant to receive a political message from the cartoon. What is interesting here, however, is that, in sabotaging the sentence, the speaker/writer reveals not a hidden agenda of the advertising slogan itself but an effect of language, which is to capture the reader at a certain ideological place.

68 This is especially true in 1864, the 300th anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth, in which the bard was used to advertise everything from soap to writing paper and became the subject of many of the critiques of such advertising in the pages of the press. 69 One article in Punch called ‘Another Shakespearian’ deplores what it calls ‘Shakespearianity’ (playing perhaps on ‘inanity’) and presents an advertising circular written by a hairdresser who discourses on the nature of poetry being of two kinds: ‘Descriptive and Real’.

His respected Lordship would have said that it was not only not difficult to dye, whether you are an old man or a young one, if he had visited SCRATCHUM AND SCIZZORS’ celebrated Hair Cutting and Dyeing Rooms, Low Holborn. In a tradition which now continues in publications such as the British Private Eye with its ‘Pseuds Corner’, this form of parody (with its puns on words such as ‘die’ and ‘dye’) holds up a contemporary style of discourse to our scrutiny and critical faculties. For such a parody to appear it is clear 26 Advertising, Subjectivity, Nineteenth-Century Novel that this type of ad is part of a daily experience of reading, a widespread, shared phenomenon which will be easily recognized by readers.

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