Literary Critics

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Literary critics are people who critique a book or novel. Their intellectually stimulating review of a book is eagerly awaited by avid readers and help them make their mind whether to read a particular book or not. Here is a list of famous literary critics from all over the world. The list contains well-known literary critics, such as Charles Du Bos, Evelyn Waugh, Theodor W. Adorno, George Plimpton and many more.
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 1 
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.

 2 
Ursula K. Le Guin
(American Author Best Known for Her Works of Speculative Fiction)
Ursula K. Le Guin
5
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.

 3 
John Updike
(Poet, Novelist)
John Updike
4
Birthdate: March 18, 1932
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Reading, Pennsylvania, United States
Died: January 27, 2009
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 4 
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.

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 5 
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.
 6 
Walter Benjamin
(German Jewish Philosopher, Cultural Critic and Essayist)
Walter Benjamin
5
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.

 7 
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.

 8 
Robert Graves
(Poet & Novelist)
Robert Graves
4
Birthdate: July 24, 1895
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Wimbledon, England
Died: December 7, 1985
 9 
John Dryden
4
Birthdate: August 9, 1631
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Aldwincle, Northamptonshire, England
Died: May 12, 1700
 10 
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. 

 11 
George Plimpton
(Journalists)
George Plimpton
4
Birthdate: March 18, 1927
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: New York City, New York, USA
Died: September 26, 2003
 12 
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.

 13 
Andre Aciman
(Writer)
Andre Aciman
4
Birthdate: January 2, 1951
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Alexandria, Egypt
 14 
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.

 15 
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.

 16 
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. 

 17 
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.
 18 
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.

 19 
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.   

 20 
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. 

 21 
Anne Tyler
(Novelist)
Anne Tyler
4
Birthdate: October 25, 1941
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Hennepin County, Minnesota, United States
 22 
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.

 23 
Ford Madox Ford
(British Writer Known for His Novels: 'The Good Soldier', 'Parade’s End' Tetralogy and 'The Fifth Queen' Trilogy)
Ford Madox Ford
4
Birthdate: December 17, 1873
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Merton, Surrey, England
Died: June 26, 1939

Best remembered for his novel The Good Soldier, author Ford Madox Ford was the grandson of Pre-Raphaelite painter Ford Madox Brown. He had been part of World War I. He spent his final years in France and the US, mostly authoring criticism. The tetralogy Parade's End remains one of his best-known works.

 24 
Bruno Schulz
(Writer and One of the Great Polish-Language Prose Stylists of the 20th Century)
Bruno Schulz
4
Birthdate: July 12, 1892
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Drohobych, Ukraine
Died: November 19, 1942

One of the best Polish authors of the 20th century, Bruno Schulz is remembered for his iconic works such as The Cinnamon Shops, a collection of short stories that had a Kafkaesque style. He was shot dead by a Nazi officer while returning home with a loaf of bread.

 25 
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.

 26 
Peter Ackroyd
(British Biographer, Novelist and Critic with a Particular Interest in the History and Culture of London)
Peter Ackroyd
4
Birthdate: October 5, 1949
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: East Acton, London, England

English author and critic Peter Ackroyd is mostly known for his novels that depict the history of London. The Cambridge and Yale alumnus had initially worked at The Spectator. Apart from writing award-winning novels such as Hawksmoor, he has also penned biographies of T.S. Eliot and Dickens, among others.

 27 
Hélène Cixous
(French Feminist Writer and Philosopher Best Known for Her Article ‘The Laugh of the Medusa’)
Hélène Cixous
4
Birthdate: June 5, 1937
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Oran, Algeria

Hélène Cixous is a professor, poet, playwright, rhetorician, literary critic, philosopher, and French feminist writer. She is best known for writing an article titled The Laugh of the Medusa, which earned her popularity and established her as a thinker in post-structural feminism.

 28 
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.

 29 
Northrop Frye
(Literary theorist and philosopher who was best remembered for being one of the most influential thinkers of the 20th century.)
Northrop Frye
4
Birthdate: July 14, 1912
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Sherbrooke, Canada
Died: January 23, 1991

Considered one of the most important literary theorists of the century, Herman Northrop Fry gained international fame with his first book, Fearful Symmetry: A Study of William Blake and later with Anatomy of Criticism: Four Essays. Prolific writer and respected educator, he went on to write many more, concurrently championing Canadian literature and identity, receiving several honors for his contributions.

 30 
Charles Maurras
4
Birthdate: April 20, 1868
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Martigues, France
Died: November 16, 1952
 31 
George Steiner
(Literary critic, Essayist, Philosopher, Novelist)
George Steiner
4
Birthdate: April 23, 1929
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Neuilly-sur-Seine, France
Died: February 3, 2020
 32 
Théophile Gautier
4
Birthdate: August 30, 1811
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Tarbes, France
Died: October 23, 1872
 33 
F.R. Leavis
(Literature Critic)
F.R. Leavis
4
Birthdate: July 14, 1895
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Cambridge, England
Died: April 14, 1978
 34 
Michel Foucault
(Philosopher & Historian)
Michel Foucault
4
Birthdate: October 15, 1926
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Poitiers, France
Died: June 25, 1984

If others thought the body was the prison of the soul, Paul-Michel Foucault felt the other way round. The French philosopher, literary critic and Leftist who interpreted the link between power and knowledge, was a post-structuralist whose theories have left a mark on anthropology, psychology and criminology. The feminist was one of the noted personalities to have died of HIV/AIDS.

 35 
Cesare Pavese
(A Very Influential Italian Novelist, Poet and Short story writer)
Cesare Pavese
4
Birthdate: September 9, 1908
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Santo Stefano Belbo, Italy
Died: August 27, 1950

Italian author Cesare Pavese is remembered for his themes of gloom and loneliness and for his protagonists who were often loners. His prolonged fight with fascists and the failure of his affair with actor Constance Dowling led him to commit suicide by consuming sleeping pills in a Turin hotel.

 36 
Stanley Fish
(Scholar)
Stanley Fish
4
Birthdate: April 19, 1938
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Providence, Rhode Island, United States
 37 
Boris Vian
(Writer)
Boris Vian
4
Birthdate: March 10, 1920
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Ville-d'Avray, Hauts-de-Seine, France
Died: June 23, 1959
 38 
Walter Pater
(English Essayist, Literary Critic Famous for His Unique Style of Writings)
Walter Pater
4
Birthdate: August 4, 1839
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Stepney, London, England
Died: July 30, 1894

Nineteenth-century critic and essayist Walter Pater redefined aestheticism with his idea of "art for art’s sake." Though initially interested in a church career, he later studied classics and began writing reviews on Renaissance art. Marius the Epicurean remains his most notable work. Some of his works reveal his homosexuality.

 39 
William Dean Howells
4
Birthdate: March 1, 1837
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Martins Ferry, Ohio, U.S.
Died: May 11, 1920
 40 
Max Jacob
(Poet)
Max Jacob
4
Birthdate: July 12, 1876
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Quimper, France
Died: March 5, 1944
 41 
Janet Maslin
(Journalist, Best Known as a Film & Literary Critic for 'The New York Times')
Janet Maslin
4
Birthdate: August 12, 1949
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: New York, New York, United States
 42 
George Henry Lewes
(Philosopher)
George Henry Lewes
4
Birthdate: April 18, 1817
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: London, England
Died: November 30, 1878
 43 
Harold Bloom
(Most famous literary critic in the English-speaking world 2017)
Harold Bloom
4
Birthdate: July 11, 1930
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: New York City, New York, United States
Died: October 14, 2019
Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak
4
Birthdate: February 24, 1942
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Ballygunge, Kolkata, India
 45 
Paul Fussell
(Historian)
Paul Fussell
4
Birthdate: March 22, 1924
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Pasadena, California, United States
Died: May 23, 2012

Literary historian Paul Fussell had been part of the infantry in World War II. He had also taught at various institutes, such as Rutgers University and the University of Pennsylvania. Best known for his books such as The Great War and Modern Memory, he was a World War expert.

 46 
Edgar Allan Poe
(Writer and Poet - Widely Regarded as a Central Figure of Romanticism in the United States)
Edgar Allan Poe
0
Birthdate: January 19, 1809
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Boston, Massachusetts, United States
Died: October 7, 1849

American writer Edgar Allan Poe is regarded as the architect of modern short story, the inventor of the detective-fiction genre and a major contributor towards science fiction genre. The influential writer is recognised for his tales of mystery and macabre. His notable works include The Raven (poem), The Tell-Tale Heart and The Fall of the House of Usher (short stories).

 47 
Felix Salten
(Author)
Felix Salten
4
Birthdate: September 6, 1869
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Pest, Budapest, Hungary
Died: October 8, 1945

Best known for penning the children’s classic Bambi, Felix Salten was forced to flee Vienna during the Nazi regime and eventually settled in Switzerland. His books were banned in Austria after Germany annexed the country, but that didn’t dent his popularity as an author. He was a skilled hunter, too.

 48 
Maurice Blanchot
(Former writer, philosopher, and literary theorist)
Maurice Blanchot
4
Birthdate: September 22, 1907
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Devrouze, Saône-et-Loire, France
Died: February 20, 2003
 49 
Donald Hall
4
Birthdate: September 20, 1928
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Hamden, Connecticut, United States
Died: June 23, 2018
 50 
Margaret Forster
(British Writer Novelist, Literary Critics, Biographer and Historian Best Known for the 1965 Novel 'Georgy Girl')
Margaret Forster
4
Birthdate: May 25, 1938
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Carlisle, England
Died: February 8, 2016

English author and freelance critic Margaret Forster is best remembered for her bestselling novel Georgy Girl, which was made into a film later. She also penned biographies and contributed to BBC Radio 4 programs. She had also been a Booker Prize judge but mostly remained away from book-signing events.