By S. Thornton
From 1830 to 1870 advertisements introduced in its wake a brand new figuring out of the way the topic learn and the way language operated. Sara Thornton provides a very important second in print tradition, the early attractiveness of what we now name a 'virtual' international, 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
Here the joke is based The Language of the Walls 29 on syllepsis or the play on identity, phonic or graphic. Syllepsis is close to antanaclasis, which is a pun in which a word is repeated with a different meaning, or rather whose meaning alters upon repetition. An example is ‘If you aren’t fired with enthusiasm, you’ll be fired with enthusiasm’. 78 We thus see that language has become more visible with advertising – that is, language’s functionings are suddenly more obvious since they are pasted up, paraded before us as if they were chalked up on a blackboard by a teacher.
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.
Promiscuous juxtapositions: New ways of seeing The problem of seeing the city space and clearly deciphering it is one that has been explored in both the eighteenth and the early nineteenth-century novel. 48 The journalism and literature of the 1860s in particular offers many discourses concerning the rebuilding of London and Paris when mud and dust disguised and obscured the most familiar districts, and old and new were mixed together to often startling effect. ’50 This unintelligible and unsettling quality of the city in transition brings us back to our earlier assertion that the city becomes a modulable space in which the surfaces – the very walls – are moveable.