The best writers include Jane Austen , Miguel de Cervantes, Marcel Proust, Pablo Neruda, and many others that I will name in this article. Writing, like other arts, awakens a series of feelings that would make it impossible to create an Olympus that is just and satisfies all humanity. 36 Greatest Writers of the West
In 1994, the literary critic Harold Bloom published his work The Western Canon. The Books and School of Ages , where he defended the existence of an elite group of writers who managed to achieve aesthetic or artistic purity in their works.
This purity is based on the Aesthetics of Emmanuel Kant (1724-1804), which focused on seeking an intersubjective solution to the judgments about the artistic question and its legitimacy.
List with the best writers in western history
William Shakespeare (1564-1616)
Most important figure in English-speaking literature . Poet and playwright, he is the author of 37 plays and more than 150 sonnets, the tragedy of Romeo and Juliet , Othello and Hamlet being some of his best known.
For Bloom, Shakespeare is at the top (alongside Dante Alighieri) of his Canon. 36 Greatest Writers of the West
Dante Alighieri (1265? – 1321)
Born in Florence, Dante is one of the most recognized Italian poets in history, being considered the “father of the Italian language”. His best known work above all is the Divine Comedy , although also essays such as Vita Nuova or De vulgari eloquentia are highly valued essays.
As we discussed before, along with Shakespeare, the Florentine author is at the top of the Canon for Harold Bloom.
Miguel de Cervantes (1547 – 1616)
Author born in Alcalá de Henares (Madrid) and the greatest symbol of Spanish literature. “El Principe de los Ingenios” has the honor of having the most edited and translated literary work in history after the Bible. As you can guess, we are talking about Don Quixote de la Mancha , the culmination of the author of the Golden Age.
Like Shakespeare, Cervantes is inevitable for all the writers who followed him. If Dickens and Flaubert reflect their narrative method, Melville and Kafka inherit their character ”, commented Bloom about the Spanish author in an article for El País.
Jane Austen (1775 – 1817)
Writer considered one of the “classics” of the British novel. With an ironic and serene style, his work has always been linked to the environment that has surrounded him. 36 Greatest Writers of the West
He wrote six novels, being Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensitivity and Persuasion his best known.
Oscar Wilde (1854 – 1900)
Irish-born playwright, considered one of the most important writers of Victorian London. Among his most popular works are The Picture of Dorian Gray , The Importance of Being Ernest and The Ballad of Reading Jail.
Edgar Allan Poe (1809 – 1849)
He was an American writer recognized for being one of the first creators of short stories. His stories include A Descent into the Maelstrom, Black Cat, and The Premature Burial.
Jules Verne (Jules Verne) (1828 – 1905)
He was a French writer, famous for his adventure and science fiction novels. Among his works are Journey to the Center of the Earth, From the Earth to the Moon, Around the World in Eighty Days and Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.
Ernest Hemingway (1899 – 1961)
American writer, considered one of the most influential novelists of the 20th century. He received the Pulitzer Prize in 1953 and the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1954. Among his most outstanding works are The Old Man and the Sea and Farewell to Arms.
Molière (1622 – 1673)
Jean Baptiste-Poquelin is considered the father of the French Comedy, being one of the actors and playwrights who have most influenced the theater.
Among his works we could highlight Tartufo, El Avaro , El Bourgués gentilhombre and above all El misanthrope .
Molière, who suffered from tuberculosis, felt ill when he was on stage while he performed his play The Imaginary Sick , dying a few hours later at home. Although this led to the popular superstition of the bad luck of yellow in the theater, it could also be interpreted as a man’s love for art and his work.
Leo Tolstoy (1828 – 1910)
Writer of Russian origin, as well as playwright, philosopher or pedagogue. Despite his noble origins, he lived an unstructured life due to the turbulent stage his country was experiencing. This influenced his way of seeing the world and therefore of narrating his works.
We can highlight his novels War and Peace , The death of Ivan Ilich, Los Cosacos or Ana Karenina .
His ideology about “non-active violence” has influenced many thinkers throughout history such as Martin Luther King or Ghandi. 36 Greatest Writers of the West
Franz Kafka (1883 – 1924)
Exponent of the renewal that the European novel underwent at the beginning of the 20th century. Of Czech origin, although his work would be written in German almost entirely. His narratives stand out for their symbolism and their depiction of the anguish in the daily life of contemporary man.
The Metamorphosis , The Process or The Castle have been some of his best known writings, being so shocking and personal that the Kafkaesque term is collected in the Royal Academy of the Language as something distressing or absurd.
Kafka left many of his works unfinished and few could see them published, however, his influence has been very important in pens such as Sartre, García Márquez or Albert Camus.
Sigmund Freud (1856 – 1939)
Sigmund Freud is known for his work in the field of psychoanalysis, this Austrian neurologist has been one of the most influential men of the last century thanks to his work and projects.
Marcel Proust (1871 – 1922)
An intelligent and sensitive man, he is considered one of the most important essayists in France, partly thanks to works such as In Search of Lost Time , one of the masterpieces of the 20th century.
The death of the cathedrals , The pleasures and the days or Parodies and miscellanies are other titles of the author born in Paris.
Pablo Neruda (1904 – 1973)
Pablo Neruda was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature (1971) and Doctor Honoris Causa from the University of Oxford. 36 Greatest Writers of the West
“No poet in the Western Hemisphere of our century admits of comparison with him,” said Bloom of the author of Twenty Love Poems and a Desperate Song, Residence on Earth, or Elementary Odes .
Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)
Poet born in Massachusetts, her sensitivity and depth to cover the issues are some of the hallmarks of her pen.
Her work was very prolific, but only a dozen poems were published while she was alive. Life, love, time and eternity, nature or death were some of the themes that the American writer most reflected in her work.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749 – 1832)
German writer and one of the exponents of romanticism. His work is based on epic and lyric written in different modalities such as prose and verse .
The learning years of Wilhelm Meister , Faust or Elective Affinities are some of the titles that have made him worthy of appearing on this list.
Charles Dickens (1812 – 1870)
English writer and social critic, as this would be reflected in many of his works. He is one of the most important novelists of the Victorian era and some of his characters are world famous, enjoying lasting popularity.
A Christmas Carol, David Copperfield, Hard Times or Oliver Twist are some of these perishable works in the libraries of any home.
Jorge Luis Borges (1899 – 1986)
Born in Buenos Aires, he is considered one of the most important literary figures of the last century. He worked several genres and on occasions came to merge them, highlighting the short stories.
El Aleph, El hacedor, Ficciones or El Informe de Brodie are some of Borges’ key works.
Although he is considered one of the masters of contemporary fiction, he never received the Nobel Prize in Literature for his political ideas. 36 Greatest Writers of the West
Walt Whitman (1819 – 1892)
Humanist who served as a journalist, poet, and essayist. Born in the United States, he had tough beginnings in which he served as a teacher or volunteer in the American Civil War, his talent was recognized in life, as was evident in his massive funeral.
Alcohol, his sexuality or religion were some of the ingredients in his life that shaped works like Leaves of Grass .
Virginia Woolf (1882 – 1941)
Adeline Virginia Stephen became an important literary figure in the United Kingdom during the interwar period thanks to her gifts as an essayist, novelist, letter writer or short story writer.
Las Olas, Mrs. Dalloway or Al Faro are some of the most famous works by this convinced feminist, who had to deal with a time when the literary genre was dominated by men.
John Milton (1608-1674)
Important poetic figure of the United Kingdom, being compared with William Shakespeare.
A cultured and enlightened man, he knew the classical languages, Hebrew and Italian, and became a minister of foreign languages during Cromwell’s mandate.
Works like Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained make him worthy of being considered one of the most important contemporary writers.
Henrik Ibsen (1828 – 1906)
Freethinker from a very young age and director and playwright of a theater since he was 25 years old. His trips to countries such as Italy and Germany exploited his creative capacity, being the period where he developed most of his work. 36 Greatest Writers of the West
Although he was a controversial person and many of his titles were a scandal for the time, to this day he is considered the father of modern realistic drama and one of the artists who have most influenced modern dramaturgy.
Specters , Brand , An enemy of the people or The Lady of the Sea are some of his most significant works.
Fernando Pessoa (1888 – 1935)
The most important Portuguese-speaking writer, also ranked among the most recognized worldwide. Poet and novelist, he practiced journalism and the business world.
His work in verse was the most outstanding, being essential Poetry by Fernando Pessoa, Poetry by Álvaro de Campos and Odas by Ricardo Reis .
James Joyce (1882 – 1941)
Born in Dublin, his work has always been closely linked to his city of origin. However, he was one of the most cosmopolitan authors of the time and one of the most influential of the 20th century.
Ulysses is his culminating work, but novels such as Portrait of the Adolescent Artist or Finnegans Wake are other wonders of this Anglo-Saxon avant-garde. 36 Greatest Writers of the West
Samuel Beckett (1906 – 1989)
Born in Dublin (Ireland), he is one of the greatest icons of literary experimentalism. Focused on minimalism, his writings address the pessimism of the human condition.
Winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, his most significant work is Waiting for Godot . Anecdotally, he was a disciple of James Joyce and worked for him as a translator.
Geoffrey Chaucer (1343-1400)
Along with Dante, the oldest member of the list. Philosopher, writer, poet, alchemist, diplomat or astronomer, the life of this versatile Englishman is marked by Canterbury Tales , his best-known stories.
They could also highlight House of Fame, The Book of the Duchess or The Legend of Good Women .
Michel de Montaigne (1533 – 1592)
One of the brightest figures of the Renaissance. Humanist and skeptic, he was an admirer of Seneca, Plutarch or Socrates, which influenced his writings.
He worked as a magistrate so that he could get enough money and retire to his castle to write. His literary style was particularly pessimistic, something rare for the time he lived.
George Eliot (1819 – 1880)
Really called Mary Anne Evans, she used the male pseudonym to get her work taken seriously.
Author of novels and poetry, among others, Silas Marner, Romola and Mediados de Marzo , her best known work , could be highlighted . 36 Greatest Writers of the West
Samuel Johnson (1709 – 1784)
Better known as Dr. Johnson, he began to get noticed in the letters through his newspaper articles and his satirical poems. Considered one of the most distinguished pens in English literature, he had an important influence on other writers of his time.
His best known works are: The Vanity of Human Desires, Rasselas, Prince of Absinia or Dictionary of the English Language .
William Wordsworth (1770-1850)
One of the greatest exponents of English romanticism and in 19th century literature. With a simple and everyday language he innovated in poetry, being key his Lyrical Ballads, Poems or The excursion .
Gabriel García Márquez (1927 – 2014)
Famous Colombian journalist and writer, author of the novel One Hundred Years of Solitude , one of the most widely read works in history at an international level.
He was awarded numerous prizes and recognitions, including the French Legion of Honor Medal in Paris in 1981 and the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982.
Marcel Proust (1871 – 1922)
Famous French novelist and essayist who contributed to literature, philosophy, and art. His most famous work was the novel In Search of Lost Time, divided into six volumes, published for fourteen years, between 1913 and 1927. 36 Greatest Writers of the West
Eric Arthur Blair ( George Orwell ) (1883 – 1924)
Arthur Blair, mostly known by his pseudonym George Orwell, was a writer and journalist who recounted his experiences in his works, from his fight against imperialism to the rejection of Nazism and totalitarianism.
It is known especially for his works The r ebelión on the farm and 1984, where he expressed and criticized the policies of the time.
Samuel Langhorne Clemens (Mark Twain) (1835 – 1910)
Also known as Mark Twain, he was an American writer whose best known works include The Prince and the Pauper , A Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
Julio Cortázar (1914 – 1984)
Writer of Argentine origin, famous for his avant-garde works. His works include short stories, novels, plays, and prose poems. His works include Hopscotch, Histories of chronocopes and famas, Bestiary and House taken .
Mario Benedetti (1920 – 2009)
Uruguayan by birth, he was part of the generation of 45, characterized by being a social phenomenon that influenced Uruguay at the time. His works include novels, short stories, essays, drama, and poetry. They stand out the truce, the erase of the coffee and the love, the women and the life. 36 Greatest Writers of the West