Written by one of the best-known interpreters of classical literature today, Sophocles and the Language of Tragedy presents a revolutionary take on the work of this great classical playwright and on how our understanding of tragedy has been shaped by our literary past. Simon Goldhill sheds new light on Sophocles' distinctive brilliance as a dramatist, illuminating such aspects of his work as his manipulation of irony, his construction of dialogue, and his deployment of the actors and the chorus. Goldhill also investigates how nineteenth-century critics like Hegel, Nietzsche, and Wagner developed a specific understanding of tragedy, one that has shaped our current approach to the genre. Finally, Goldhill addresses one of the foundational questions of literary criticism: how historically self-conscious should a reading of Greek tragedy be? The result is an invigorating and exciting new interpretation of the most canonical of Western authors.