Literature, Criticism, and the Theory of Signs
Following Peirce in his non-reductive understanding of the theory of signs as a branch of aesthetics, this book reconceptualizes the processes of literary creation, appreciation and reading in semiotic terms. Here is a carefully developed theory of what sort of criteria serve to distinguish apposite from inapposite readings of literary works-of-art. Given Peirce's triadic account of signification, it enlarges Aristotle's view of mimesis as expressive making into an understanding of literary works as deliberatively designed sign-systems belonging to Peirce's eighth class of signs. In parallel with Bakhtin's account of the dialogical nature of literary work (and its success in exposing misreadings of Dostoyevsky), this work categorizes in precise theoretical terms what is wrong with the non-dialogical readings which treat Plato's dialogues as doctrinal tractates. As a study in literary theory finally, and on the basis of apt distinctions between exhibitive, active, and assertive judgments, this book re-demarcates and distinguishes the discipline of literary criticism from that of literary theory, and both of these from the work of literary creation itself.