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 offers a vital 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 info for Advertising, Subjectivity and the Nineteenth-Century Novel: Dickens, Balzac and the Language of the Walls
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. This in itself is interesting since it suggests that by 1864 there was a sufficient circulation of advertisements on walls and in magazines to create a ‘habitus’ (to use Bourdieu’s expression), a background of shared knowledge (slogans, brand names, images) which circulated among the population and could be used as collective points of reference.
57 We become aware that a similar aesthetic is being used by both Dickens and Parry, namely that text seems to invade and unbalance static integrity and create dynamism in a still picture, making it an ongoing sentence rather than a frozen image. To see the urban space was to integrate the movements of text and image which overlay it, thus altering our reading of that space. Visions of 22 Advertising, Subjectivity, Nineteenth-Century Novel Figure 4 John Orlando Parry’s A London Street Scene of 1835 Source: Dunhill Museum.
It is a comment on the ease with which the passer-by could be inveigled into advertising, but also a sign of the way in which the human body was increasingly becoming a prosthesis to advertising. There is the suggestion that our relationship to advertising does not leave us untouched but enters us and damages us – it sucks out something and leaves us with less of our humanity: cartoons in Punch constantly depict human beings become commodity or commodities become human as the cartoons of Grandville were doing The Language of the Walls 37 Figure 7 ‘The Lowest Depth’, Punch, 1864 Source: British Library.
Advertising, Subjectivity and the Nineteenth-Century Novel: Dickens, Balzac and the Language of the Walls by S. Thornton