“The Commercial Spirit Has Entered In”: Speech, Fiction, and Advertising

Ellen Gruber Garvey

in The Adman in the Parlor

Published in print October 1996 | ISBN: 9780195108224
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199855070 | DOI:
“The Commercial Spirit Has Entered In”: Speech, Fiction, and Advertising

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As advertising increasingly entered daily life, writers and commentators grappled with the meaning of the new advertising discourse. This chapter examines the more diffuse movement of advertising into national culture. Brand names and ad slogans were useful as a common frame of reference in an increasingly heterogeneous country. As the national distribution and advertising of goods by brand name shaped a national vocabulary, the cultural shorthand they created enabled people across the United States to understand a reference to a brand of soap or a joke about an advertising slogan. One arguably elite setting in which advertising references began to appear was fiction. Often such references were satiric, but in a popular novel of 1888, Amelie Rives's The Quick or the Dead?, brand-name references appear more central. Rives's novel embodied questions about the individuality of people and relationships, and the duplicability and replaceability of relationships, in part through references to brand-named items associated with characters. It is argued that the novel attempted to reconcile the idea of individuality and irreplaceability with the system of mass production in which all duplicated articles are equally authentic.

Keywords: magazine advertising; slogans; brand names; national culture; novels; The Quick or the Dead?

Chapter.  11413 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Literary Studies (19th Century)

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