Critics & Connoisseurs

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Critics are the professionals who judge the qualities of literary or artistic works, and communicate their assessment of various forms of creative works. There are professional critics who assess almost every imaginable art form from paintings to literature, from films to music, and from theater to architecture. They critique the art forms from the aesthetic angle, taking into consideration several factors. Connoisseurs, on the other hand, are individuals who are expert judges in matters of taste; they have a great deal of knowledge about a specific art form or cuisine. Italian portrait painter Giovanni Boldini, one of the best known artists of his time, was also a famed connoisseur of art. Known as the "Master of Swish" because of his flowing style of painting, he was a true expert in the genre of portrait painting. Critics and connoisseurs work in a number of fields. Coming to literature, Edgar Allan Poe, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Joyce Carol Oates are among the best known critics. In the modern era, films are also considered an art form. In this genre, Wesley Morris, Glenn Kenny, and Dana Stevens are counted among the expert film critics. Read on to know about famous critics & connoisseurs from all over the world.
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 1 
Friedrich Nietzsche
(German Philosopher, Cultural Critic and Philologist)
Friedrich Nietzsche
4
Birthdate: October 15, 1844
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Röcken, Lützen, Germany
Died: August 25, 1900

German philosopher, cultural critic, composer, and poet Friedrich Nietzsche has had a profound influence on modern intellectual history. He held the Chair of Classical Philology at the University of Basel. His work spanned philosophical polemics, poetry, cultural criticism, and fiction. He suffered from numerous health problems from a young age and died at the age of 55.

 2 
Margaret Atwood
(Poet, Novelist, Literary Critic & Environmental Activist)
Margaret Atwood
4
Birthdate: November 18, 1939
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Ottawa, Canada

Margaret Atwood is a Canadian poet and novelist. Her works encompass themes, such as religion and myth, climate change, and gender and identity. An award-winning writer, many of Atwood's works have been made into films and television series; her work, The Handmaid's Tale, has had several adaptations. Perhaps, Margaret Atwood's most important contribution is her invention of the LongPen device.

 3 
Roger Ebert
(Film Critic for the "Chicago Sun-Times")
Roger Ebert
4
Listed In: Film Critics
Birthdate: June 18, 1942
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Urbana, Illinois, United States
Died: April 4, 2013

Roger Ebert was an American journalist, author, screenwriter, film historian, and film critic. While working as a film critic for the daily newspaper Chicago Sun-Times, Roger Ebert received the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism, becoming the first film critic to be honored with the prestigious award. He was often described as America's most influential and prominent film critic of all time.

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 4 
Ursula K. Le Guin
(American Author Best Known for Her Works of Speculative Fiction)
Ursula K. Le Guin
4
Birthdate: October 21, 1929
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Berkeley, California, United States
Died: January 22, 2018

Ursula K. Le Guin was an American author. In a career spanning almost six decades, Ursula wrote about political and social themes like race and sexuality. Throughout her career, Ursula had a major influence on speculative fiction. Her book A Wizard of Earthsea is credited with inspiring ideas like 'wizard school', which was later popularized in the Harry Potter series.

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 5 
Lewis Black
(Comedian)
Lewis Black
4
Birthdate: August 30, 1948
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Silver Spring, Maryland, United States
 6 
Lenny Bruce
(American Stand-Up Comedian and Social Critic)
Lenny Bruce
6
Birthdate: October 13, 1925
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Mineola, New York, United States
Died: August 3, 1966

Regarded as one of the best American stand-up comedians of all time, Lenny Bruce was renowned for his critical form of comedy. His conviction for obscenity played a major role in redefining freedom of speech in the US. He is also credited with inspiring several comedians of the counterculture era. His life and career have inspired several works of art.

Bell Hooks
4
Listed In: Social Activists
Birthdate: September 25, 1952
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Hopkinsville, Kentucky, United States
Died: December 15, 2021
 8 
Jean-Luc Godard
(Film Director and a Pioneer of the 1960s 'French New Wave' Film Movement)
Jean-Luc Godard
4
Birthdate: December 3, 1930
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: September 13, 2022

The Paris-born French-Swiss director and screenwriter had the reputation of adding new dimensions to filmmaking with his experimentation, a trend which came to be known as the French New Wave. The director of acclaimed films like Breathless, My Life to Live and Pierrot le Fou, Jean-Luc Godard was married to actress Anna Karina. He is regarded as an all-time great director.

 9 
Dick Gregory
(American critic)
Dick Gregory
4
Birthdate: October 12, 1932
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: St. Louis, Missouri, United States
 10 
Charles Baudelaire
(French Poet Known for His Handling of Rhyme & Rhythm and His Book 'Les Fleurs du mal')
Charles Baudelaire
4
Birthdate: April 9, 1821
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: August 31, 1867
French prose poet, essayist, and critic Charles Baudelaire was one of the first translators of the works of Edgar Allan Poe. Best known for his book of poems Les Fleurs du mal, he is believed to have coined the word modernity and was associated with the symbolist and decadent movements.
 11 
Gene Siskel
(Film critic. Journalist)
Gene Siskel
4
Birthdate: January 26, 1946
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, United States
Died: February 20, 1999
 12 
John Updike
(Poet, Novelist)
John Updike
4
Birthdate: March 18, 1932
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Reading, Pennsylvania, United States
Died: January 27, 2009
 13 
Henry Louis Gates Jr.
(Literary Critic and Scholar Who Became Popular for His Pioneering Theories of African and African-American Literature)
Henry Louis Gates Jr.
4
Birthdate: September 16, 1950
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Keyser, West Virginia, United States

Henry Louis Gates Jr. is an American literary critic, historian, professor, filmmaker, and public intellectual. He is currently serving as the director of the Hutchins Center at Harvard University. Over the years Gates has been honored with several prestigious awards including the National Humanities Medal. In 1997, he was named in Time magazine's 25 Most Influential Americans list.

 14 
Roland Barthes
(French Literary Theorist Best Known for His Essay Collection 'Mythologies' and His Essay 'The Death of the Author')
Roland Barthes
4
Birthdate: November 12, 1915
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Cherbourg-en-Cotentin, France
Died: March 25, 1980
Born to middle-class parents in France, literary theorist and critic Roland Barthes explored Ferdinand de Saussure’s semiology and influenced fields such as structuralism. His iconic works, such as Mythologies and The Death of the Author, influenced later thinkers. He died of injuries sustained in a road accident at 64.
 15 
Paul Schrader
(Screenwriter)
Paul Schrader
4
Birthdate: July 22, 1946
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA
 16 
Jean Cocteau
(French Author and Artist Who Was One of the Foremost Creatives of the 'Surrealist', 'Avant-Garde', and 'Dadaist' Movements.)
Jean Cocteau
4
Birthdate: July 5, 1889
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Maisons-Laffitte, France
Died: October 11, 1963
While Jean Cocteau preferred calling himself a poet, his multidimensional works consisted of novels such as Les Enfants Terribles and films directed by him such as La Belle et la Bête. Cocteau relied on motifs such as eyes, blood, and mirrors, and mingled mythology and modernism.
 17 
Denis Diderot
(French Philosopher, Co-Founder and Chief Editor of the ‘Encyclopédie’)
Denis Diderot
4
Birthdate: October 5, 1713
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Langres, France
Died: July 31, 1784

Denis Diderot revolutionized the Age of Enlightenment as the co-founder of Encyclopédie, which was banned for questioning religion. He had flirted with the idea of joining the theater and becoming a priest, and even studied law, but later devoted himself to languages, literature, and philosophy.

 18 
Liu Xiaobo
(Chinese Human Rights Activist and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate)
Liu Xiaobo
4
Birthdate: December 28, 1955
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Changchun, China
Died: July 13, 2017

Liu Xiaobo was a Chinese activist, literary critic, and philosopher. He is best remembered for organizing campaigns that aimed at ending the one-party rule in China. He was honored with the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize for his struggle for human rights in China. Liu is the first Chinese citizen to be honored with a Nobel Prize while residing in China.

 19 
Walter Benjamin
(German Jewish Philosopher, Cultural Critic and Essayist)
Walter Benjamin
4
Birthdate: July 15, 1892
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Berlin, Germany
Died: September 26, 1940

Walter Benjamin was a German Jewish essayist, philosopher, and cultural critic. An eclectic thinker, Benjamin made significant contributions to literary criticism, aesthetic theory, and historical materialism. Although Benjamin's work did not earn much recognition during his lifetime, it continues to be revered by academics several years after his death.

 20 
Theodor W. Adorno
(Philosopher)
Theodor W. Adorno
4
Birthdate: September 11, 1903
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Frankfurt, Germany
Died: August 6, 1969

One of the most prominent intellectuals of the 20th century, Theodor Adorno was a pioneer of the Frankfurt School of Critical Theory and despised the culture industry. Born to a singer mother, the German sociologist grew up amid music and could even play Beethoven on the piano by 12.

 21 
Robert Graves
(Poet & Novelist)
Robert Graves
4
Birthdate: July 24, 1895
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Wimbledon, England
Died: December 7, 1985
 22 
John Dryden
4
Birthdate: August 9, 1631
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Aldwincle, Northamptonshire, England
Died: May 12, 1700
 23 
Stanisław Lem
4
Birthdate: September 12, 1921
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Lviv, Ukraine
Died: March 27, 2006

Stanisław Lem was a Polish writer who specialized in the science fiction genre. He was also a noted essayist who wrote on varied subjects, including philosophy, futurology, and literary criticism. His books, which have been translated into over 50 languages, have sold more than 45 million copies worldwide. He was the recipient of numerous awards and honors. 

 24 
Fernando Pessoa
(Portuguese Modernist Poet and Author of 'Mensagem' and 'The Book of Disquiet')
Fernando Pessoa
4
Birthdate: June 13, 1888
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Lisbon, Portugal
Died: November 30, 1935

Fernando Pessoa was a Portuguese poet, writer, translator, and publisher. A prolific writer, he is considered one of the most significant literary figures of the 20th century. While he mostly wrote in the Portuguese language, he also wrote in English and French occasionally. Besides writing under his own name, he also wrote under approximately 75 other names.

 25 
George Plimpton
(Journalists)
George Plimpton
4
Birthdate: March 18, 1927
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: New York City, New York, USA
Died: September 26, 2003
 26 
Kurt Loder
(Film critic)
Kurt Loder
4
Birthdate: May 5, 1945
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Ocean City, New Jersey, U.S.
 27 
Heinrich Heine
(German Poet & Literary Critic Know for His Works 'Germany. A Winter's Tale' and 'Buch der Lieder')
Heinrich Heine
4
Birthdate: December 13, 1797
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Düsseldorf, Germany
Died: February 17, 1856

Heinrich Heine was a German poet, literary critic, and writer. He is known internationally for his lyric poetry, which was popularized by composers like Franz Schubert and Robert Schumann who adapted Heine's lyric poetry into art songs. Heinrich Heine's radical political views forced the German authorities to ban his works, which only added to his popularity.

 28 
Andre Aciman
(Writer)
Andre Aciman
4
Birthdate: January 2, 1951
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Alexandria, Egypt
 29 
Clive James
(Writer, Journalist, Literary critic)
Clive James
4
Birthdate: October 7, 1939
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Kogarah, Australia
Died: November 24, 2019

Clive James was an Australian critic, journalist, and writer who worked mainly in the United Kingdom. He had a difficult life as a young man and faced many challenges on his way to building a successful career. He began his career as a TV critic and proceeded to establish himself as a writer and poet as well. 

 30 
E. T. A. Hoffmann
4
Birthdate: January 24, 1776
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Königsberg, Germany
Died: June 25, 1822

E. T. A. Hoffmann was a German author, jurist, artist, composer, and music critic. His stories served as an inspiration and laid the foundation for The Tales of Hoffmann by Jacques Offenbach. The Nutcracker by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky is also based on Hoffmann's The Nutcracker and the Mouse King. Hoffmann is among the most influential authors of the Romantic Movement.

 31 
Robert Christgau
(Journalist, Reporter, Essayist, Writer, Music critic)
Robert Christgau
4
Birthdate: April 18, 1942
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Greenwich Village
 32 
Eugene Ionesco
(Romanian-French Playwright and Leading Figure of the 'French Avant-Garde Theatre')
Eugene Ionesco
4
Birthdate: November 26, 1909
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Slatina, Romania Slatina, Romania
Died: March 28, 1994

Eugene Ionesco was a Romanian-French playwright and one of the 20th century's leading figures of the French avant-garde theatre. He is best remembered for his play, The Bald Soprano, which played an important role in the development of the Theatre of the Absurd. Eugène Ionesco was the recipient of several prestigious awards, including the Austrian State Prize for European Literature.

 33 
Mikhail Bakhtin
(Russian Literary Theorist and Philosopher Known for His Work ‘Toward a Philosophy of the Act’)
Mikhail Bakhtin
4
Birthdate: November 17, 1895
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Oryol, Russia
Died: March 7, 1975
Mikhail Bakhtin was a Russian philosopher, scholar, and literary critic who worked on ethics, literary theory, and the philosophy of language. Bakhtin's writings inspired scholars who were working on various traditions, such as structuralism, semiotics, religious criticism, and Marxism. Mikhail Bakhtin is also credited with influencing various Western schools of theory.
 34 
Robert Mondavi
(Winegrower)
Robert Mondavi
4
Listed In: Food Critics
Birthdate: June 18, 1913
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Virginia
Died: May 16, 2008
 35 
Harvey Pekar
(Comics artist, Autobiographer, Writer, Music critic, Journalist)
Harvey Pekar
4
Birthdate: October 8, 1939
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Cleveland
Died: July 12, 2010
 36 
Leonard Maltin
(Journalist, Art historian, Film critic, Screenwriter, Writer, University teacher)
Leonard Maltin
4
Birthdate: December 18, 1950
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: New York City
 37 
Molly Meldrum
(Music critic, Record producer, Composer)
Molly Meldrum
4
Birthdate: January 29, 1943
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Orbost
 38 
Johann Gottfried Herder
(Philosopher, Theologian, Poet, and Literary Critic)
Johann Gottfried Herder
4
Birthdate: August 25, 1744
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Morąg, Poland
Died: December 18, 1803

German philosopher Johann Gottfried Herder is best remembered as a significant figure of the Sturm und Drang literary movement. Born into poverty and largely self-educated till 17, he later became a disciple of Immanuel Kant and was associated with Enlightenment and Weimar Classicism. He was eventually ennobled.

 39 
René Girard
(French Polymath, Historian and Philosopher of Social Science)
René Girard
4
Birthdate: December 25, 1923
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Avignon, France
Died: November 4, 2015

René Girard was a French philosopher of social science, literary critic, and historian. Over the years, Girard's work has had an influence on disciplines like philosophy, anthropology, psychology, mythology, theology, economics, sociology, and cultural studies among other important disciplines. In 2006, René Girard was honored by the University of Tübingen with the prestigious Dr. Leopold Lucas Prize.

 40 
Sergei Diaghilev
(Russian Art Critic, Ballet Impresario and Founder of the 'Ballets Russes')
Sergei Diaghilev
4
Birthdate: March 31, 1872
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Chudovsky District, Russia
Died: August 19, 1929

Sergei Diaghilev was a Russian ballet impresario, patron, and art critic. He is credited with founding the popular ballet company Ballets Russes, which has produced some of the greatest and popular choreographers and dancers like Tamara Karsavina, Lydia Sokolova, Serge Lifar, and Alicia Markova. Sergei Diaghilev is remembered for placing the needs of his company and dancers above his own.

 41 
Jacqueline Roque
(Best known as the muse and second wife of Pablo Picasso)
Jacqueline Roque
4
Listed In: Art Critics
Birthdate: February 24, 1927
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: October 15, 1986
 42 
Terry Eagleton
(Literary Theorist Best Known for His Work 'Literary Theory: An Introduction' (1983))
Terry Eagleton
4
Birthdate: February 22, 1943
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Salford, England

English literary theorist and critic Terry Eagleton, presently serving as Distinguished Professor of English Literature at Lancaster University, is a prominent critic of postmodernism and the New Atheism. His oeuvre includes over forty books among which Literary Theory: An Introduction (1983), which describes the emerging literary theory of the period, is considered to be one of his most notable works.   

 43 
Michael Winner
(Film director)
Michael Winner
4
Birthdate: October 30, 1935
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Hampstead, London, England
Died: January 21, 2013
 44 
Diana Wynne Jones
(Known for Writing Fantasy and Speculative Fiction Novels for Children and Young Adults)
Diana Wynne Jones
4
Birthdate: August 16, 1934
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: London, England
Died: March 26, 2011

Diana Wynne Jones was an English writer who is known for  fantasy and speculative fiction novels for children and young adults.. She began writing stories for her siblings at the age of thirteen. However, she was actually introduced to children's literature while reading out to her sons, starting to write on her own once her children started going to school, authoring more than forty books in her lifetime.

 45 
Anne Tyler
(Novelist)
Anne Tyler
4
Birthdate: October 25, 1941
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Hennepin County, Minnesota, United States
 46 
Olivier Assayas
(Film director, Screenwriter, Film critic)
Olivier Assayas
4
Birthdate: January 25, 1955
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Paris, France
 47 
Rex Reed
(Actor, Film actor, Journalist)
Rex Reed
4
Birthdate: October 2, 1938
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Fort Worth
Charles John Klosterman
4
Birthdate: June 5, 1972
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Breckenridge, Minnesota, United States
 49 
Georg Simmel
(One of the First Generation of German Sociologists and Neo-Kantian Philosopher)
Georg Simmel
4
Birthdate: March 1, 1858
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Berlin, Germany
Died: September 26, 1918

Georg Simmel was a German sociologist, philosopher, and critic considered a forerunner to structuralist styles of reasoning in the social sciences. He was neo-Kantian in his approach and laid the foundations for sociological antipositivism. He broadly rejected academic standards and wrote extensively on the philosophy of Schopenhauer and Nietzsche. He was married to philosopher Gertrud Kinel and had one son. 

 50 
Margaret Drabble
(English Novelist, Biographer and Critic)
Margaret Drabble
4
Birthdate: June 5, 1939
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Sheffield, England

English author Margaret Drabble mostly writes about women protagonists and their experiences through marriage, motherhood, and intellectual development. Her novels such as The Gates of Ivory and A Summer Bird-Cage have earned her honors such as the DBE. She is the younger sister of novelist A.S. Byatt.