By S. Thornton
From 1830 to 1870 advertisements introduced in its wake a brand new knowing of the way the topic learn and the way language operated. Sara Thornton provides an important second in print tradition, the early popularity 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
64 The panorama and diorama are mentioned and joked about by the pensionnaires in the Vauqueur boarding house in Balzac’s Le père Goriot (1834) well before the revolutions in street spectacle which the Haussmann project would bring. I would suggest that the pedestrian, the omnibus passenger, the reader of pages of advertisements were subject to optical effects in their daily round in the city similar to the ones we have just described. Their eye was already accustomed to these complexities since London and Paris were full of moving text and image.
The overlapping of one poster on another creates sentences such as ‘Vote for ... King Arthur’ in which the banality of democratic suffrage in modern industrial society is humorously juxtaposed with feudal law and Kingly rights. 59 We must ask ourselves here if this new way of reading the world was also part of a wider issue of seeing and consider for a moment Crary’s influential thesis on vision and modernity and the place of the observer. Crary seeks to situate the break with the notion of an unproblematic seeing embodied in the camera obscura, in which the eye was considered an enabling lens, an ‘infallible, metaphysical eye’.
Do in mercy allow us to ride for a day’s pleasure to the Bank to receive our dividends without compelling us to sit vis-à-vis to Moses and Son, or having Rowland’s Kalydor perpetually thrown in our faces. 92 The advert is given active and intelligent status here. It is an aggressor which ‘throws’ information in the face, which corrupts the fair sex and which threatens to transform those who are obliged to consume it into advertisers themselves. The vampiric nature of the adverts is hinted at in the last line in that once bitten the ordinary shopkeeper becomes advertiser.
Advertising, Subjectivity and the Nineteenth-Century Novel: Dickens, Balzac and the Language of the Walls by S. Thornton