Sophocles and the Language of Tragedy

Sophocles and the Language of Tragedy

Hardback Onassis Series in Hellenic Culture

By (author) Simon Goldhill


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  • Publisher: Oxford University Press Inc
  • Format: Hardback | 304 pages
  • Dimensions: 152mm x 239mm x 28mm | 499g
  • Publication date: 5 April 2012
  • Publication City/Country: New York
  • ISBN 10: 0199796270
  • ISBN 13: 9780199796274
  • Illustrations note: n/a
  • Sales rank: 529,480

Product description

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.

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Author information

Simon Goldhill is Professor of Greek Literature and Culture at the University of Cambridge. His previous books include Jerusalem: City of Longing, How to Stage Greek Tragedy Today, and Reading Greek Tragedy.

Review quote

"With this latest book, Simon Goldhill brings his customary acumen and verve to reading the 'language' of Sophoclean tragedy from two very different perspectives. ... By placing between the same covers 'profoundly conservative' and 'rashly revolutionary' critical perspectives (3), Goldhill instills in the reader a new awareness of the interpretive practices that have sustained tragedy scholarship for centuries at the same time that he defamiliarizes them. His eye for telling detail, moreover, combined with his panoramic sweep of intellectual history, is...enthralling." --New England ClassicalJournal"Mr. Goldhill joins the crowded field, but his work should stand out." --San Francisco Book Review"Goldhill's critical discussion of the historical and philosophical origin of several key concepts of Sophoclean tragedy is of great interest." "A brilliant balancing act: Simon Goldhill combines close readings of Sophocles' plays with penetrating chapters on the language of tragic criticism since the nineteenth century. There is something for everyone in this exhilarating and adventurous book." --Pat Easterling, University of Cambridge "Following up on his landmark studies of Aeschylus and his influential Reading Greek Tragedy, Goldhill offers now a full-length look at Sophocles. With his customary versatility as critic and cultural historian, he offers a Janus-faced volume that looks in two directions. In the first instance, there are exemplary close readings with insistence on the rhetoric, politics, and history of 5th century Athens as essential background for articulating how the poet develops his own particular engagement with the language of tragedy. In the second, Goldhill spreads a wider net to expose the often unrecognized historicity of our own understanding of the tragic, established especially by 19th century German thinkers, for whom Sophocles represented the perfect paradigm. Like all his work, Go

Table of contents

Introduction: Entrances and Exits ; Section 1: Tragic Language ; 1: Undoing: Lusis and the Analysis of Irony ; 2: The Audience on Stage: Rhetoric, Emotion and Judgment ; 3: Line for Line ; 4: Choreography: The Lyric Voice of Tragedy ; 5: The Chorus in Action ; Section 2: The Language of Tragedy ; 6: Generalizing about Tragedy ; 7: Generalizing about the Chorus ; 8: The Language of Tragedy and Modernity: How Electra Lost her Piety ; 9: Antigone and the Politics of Sisterhood: The Tragic Language of Sharing ; Coda: Reading With or Without Hegel: From Text to Script ; Glossary ; Bibliography