Here in Virginia Woolf’s TO THE LIGHTHOUSE is a wonderful physical description of advertising–in the process of being created, in this case, on a billboard. At first I was disoriented because James Tansey’s thoughts are elsewhere (welcome to Virginia Woolf) and suddenly the circus literally unfolds. He’s on a walk with Mrs. Ramsay:
…He felt many things, something in particular that excited him and disturbed him for reasons which he could not give. He would like her to see him, gowned and hooded, walking in a procession. A fellowship, a professorship, he felt capable of anything and saw himself–but what was she looking at? At a man pasting a bill. The vast flapping sheet flattened itself out, and each shove of the brush revealed fresh legs, hoops, horses, glistening red and blues, beautifully smooth, until half the wall was covered with the advertisement of a circus; a hundred horsemen, twenty performing seals, lions, tigers…Craning forwards, for she was short-sighted, she read out how it…’will visit this town.’ It was terribly dangerous work for a one-armed man, she exclaimed, to stand on top of a ladder like that – his left arm had been cut off in a reaping machine two years ago.
“Let us all go!” she cried, moving on, as if all those riders and horses had filled her with childlike exultation and made her forget her pity.
“Let’s go,” he said, repeating her word, clicking them out, however, with a self-consciousness that made her wince. “Let’s all go to the circus.”
–p. 11, Harcourt edition, 1955