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.
1. Preface; 2. Introduction: A Guide to the Project; 3. Chapter 1. Bakhtin, Dialogism, and Plato's Dialogues; 4. 1 The Dialogical nature of Dostoyevsky's Narratives; 5. 2 The Dialogical Nature of Speech and Thought; 6. 3 Dialogical Poetics in Dostoyevsky and Plato; 7. 4 Problems in Bakhtin's Poetics; 8. 5 The Voices That We Hear in Plato's Dialogues; 9. Chapter 2. The Text, the Work, and the Reader; 10. 1 The Need for Text-Reception History and an Aesthetics of Reading; 11. 2 Peirce's Account of Interpretants and their Signs; 12. 3 The Generic Identity of the Literary Work, and Its Design; 13. 4 The Mode of Judgment of the Work, and of Its Responsive Articulation; 14. Chapter 3. Deconstruction as Poetics; 15. 1 Deconstruction and the Sense of Structure; 16. 2 Deconstructive Attitudes toward Writing; 17. 3 Dialogism and Sophism, Logicism and Creative Rationality; 18. 4 The Aesthetics of Non-Graphicist Deconstruction; 19. Chapter 4. The Modes of Judgment and the Nature of Criticism; 20. 1 Reprise on the Semiotic Approach to Literary Significance; 21. 2 The Poetics of Aristotle and Buchler; 22. 3 Poetic Responsiveness as the Model of Valid Reading; 23. 4 Mimesis as Re-enactment and Expression; 24. 5 Assertive, Active, and Exhibitive Judgment; 25. 6 Reading as a Communicative Interaction; 26. 7 Testing Peirce's Semeiotic: The Problem of Metaphor; 27. Chapter 5. The Contexts of Reading; 28. 1 Flawed Texts, Flawed Readings; 29. 2 The Transactional Nature of Critical Reading; 30. 3 Poststructural Criticism, Modernism and Postmodernism; 31. 4 Context-Determined Misreadings; 32. Chapter 6. The Semiotics of Reading; 33. 1 The Reader; 34. 2 The Critic; 35. 3 On the Dependency and Autonomy of Criticism; 36. Appendix: Ten Classes of Signs; 37. Bibliography; 38. Index