The Introduction states clearly that Peirce’s semiotic should be approached in terms

of the philosophical questions it addressed: that the philosophical hue of Peirce’s writings

distinguishes them from the ethnology of Levi-Strauss, and the linguistics of Jakobson or

De Saussure. The introduction stresses another distinctive theme – that Peircan exegesis

should be mindful of the context of the writing and publication of his seminal work.

Deledalle alludes to dates and periods of Peirce’s life – 1867, 1878, 1906 – that were

elaborated in Charles S. Peirce, 1839-1914 (1990). There is a correspondence of audience,

circumstance, chronology and ideas that can be overlooked by overly philosophical

readings. Peirce may be polyglot, even a genius, but he cannot mean all things to all

readers: it is more likely that he only ever meant a few things to a few people at any one


Peirce did not write systematic large-scale accounts of his schemes, in which a

consistency of terminology would be ensured. As a result, he probably often contradicted

his own “ethics of terminology,” transforming, eliding and substituting key words of his

semiotic theory. Throughout his book, Deledalle responds to changing nuances in the

meaning of terms such as “sign,” “representamen,” “semiosis,” and “icon,” and invites us

to re-read Peirce accordingly.

The argument about contextualized exegesis suggests parallels between this

anthology and Peirce’s own writings. Deledalle writes in a concise, notational and nuanced

conceptual style that is flexibly adapted, in individual papers, to various audiences and

circumstances. Any approach to the assemblage of writings selected from thirty years’

output needs to be qualified by a sense of the author’s own “different periods and in

different contexts” (viii). Thus, the paper on Lady Welby is from a collection in a book

dedicated to Peirce’s correspondence with that English linguist: a response to a colleague,

Jerzy Pelc, is previously unpublished. The Conclusion of the book involves a close study

of Peirce’s “Contributions to The Nation” journal. This involves close analysis of key terms

such as “sign” and “phanoscopy,” as they are introduced and discussed by Peirce in that