Wikipedia defines verbal irony as
a statement in which the meaning that a speaker employs is sharply different from the meaning that is ostensibly expressed. The ironic statement usually involves the explicit expression of one attitude or evaluation, but with indications in the overall speech-situation that the speaker intends a very different, and often opposite, attitude or evaluation.
When I encounter postmodern philosophy I often receive the impression that irony must be involved. There is also a clear historic path from Nietzsche to postmodernism. But so far Nietzsche himself did not strike me as ironic, rather as an earnest and even grim writer. I've been re-reading Nietzsche's The Birth of Tragedy from the Spirit of Music and found myself somewhat surprised.
Here is Nietzsche arguing at great length that one must be skeptical as to how far rationality (rational arguments) can reach. He chooses Socrates as his arch enemy, Socrates who is thought to have said "I know that I know nothing". Here he is writing in Germany in 1872 (when Prussia had just defeated France in battle and established the German Empire in 1871) about the tragic fate of heroes. Yet he reserves highest praise for a contemporary hero not for "hard" battlefield valor but for "soft" composition of music (which happened to be the occupation of his friend Richard Wagner, whom he then adored).
While these (what appear to me as) manifest contradictions may not give a fair impression of the entire book, let alone Nietzsche's larger body of work, they make me wonder: does Nietzsche hide an ironic meaning behind what he ostensibly presents and have later philosophers (and historians) judged him partly as an ironic writer?