Clicking on a subject will lead to the titles discussing it. Hundreds of thousands of people are mentioned in our pages, so only those who are the main topics of a book get a listing here. Names are given in their commonest forms — so, Paul Celan, not Paul Antschel. Nationalities are only meant as geographical, and sometimes they are shorthand — David Bergelson is ‘Russian’ because he mainly lived there, even though he was born in the Ukraine, spent years in Germany, and wrote in Yiddish.

Abstract subjects
Architecture
Exile
Gender and sexuality
The Holocaust
History of ideas
Languages in contact
Law and society
Mythology
National and cultural identity
Opera
Orientalism
Postcolonial studies
Sociolinguistics
Surrealism
Survey works
Television
Trauma
Utopian thought
Verse and metre

Classics
Euripides (c.480-406 BCE), Athenian playwright
Aristophanes (c.446-386 BCE), Athenian playwright
Plato (c.428-348 BCE), Athenian philosopher
Epicurus (341-270 BCE), Athenian philosopher
Virgil (70-19 BCE), Roman poet

The Middle Ages
Anonymous literature of the Middle Ages
Gonzalo de Berceo (c.1190-1264), Spanish poet
Alfonso X El Sabio (1221-84), Castilian king
Dante Alighieri (1265-1321), Italian poet
Giovanni Boccaccio (1313-75), Italian poet
François Villon (c.1431-63), French poet
Gil Vicente (c.1465-1536), Portuguese playwright

Born in the sixteenth century
Maurice Scève (1500-64), French poet
Teresa of Avila (1515-82), Spanish mystic
Jan Kochanowski (1530-84), Polish poet
Michel de Montaigne (1533-92), French essayist
Guillaume de Saluste Du Bartas (1544-90), French poet
Torquato Tasso (1544-95), Italian poet
Miguel de Cervantes (1547-1616), Spanish novelist
Giordano Bruno (1548-1600), Italian natural philosopher
William Shakespeare (1564-1616), English playwright
Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1571-1610), Italian painter
Martin Opitz von Boberfeld (1597-1639), German poet

Born in the seventeenth century
Pierre Corneille (1606-84), French playwright
Richard Crashaw (c.1613-49), English poet
Charles de Saint-Evremond (1614-1703), French critic
Nicolas Fouquet (1615-80), French politician
Furetière (1619-1688), French novelist
Louis II de Bourbon (1621-86), French general
Blaise Pascal (1623-62), French philosopher
Madame de Lafayette (1634-93), French novelist
Nicolas Boileau (1636-1711), French playwright
Jean Racine (1639-99), French playwright
Pierre de Marivaux (1688-1763), French novelist
Samuel Richardson (1689-1761), English novelist
Alexis Piron (1689-1773), French playwright
‘Voltaire’, François-Marie Arouet (1694-1778), French writer and philosopher
Françoise de Graffigny (1695-1758), French novelist

Born in the eighteenth century
Jean Jacques Rousseau (1712-78), French philosopher
Denis Diderot (1713-84), French philosopher
Laurence Sterne (1713-69), English novelist
James Beattie (1735-1803), Scottish philosopher
Bernardin de Saint-Pierre (1737-1814), French novelist
Jean-Baptiste Lamarck (1744-1829), French naturalist
Gottfried August Bürger (1748-94), German poet
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832), German writer
William Blake (1757-1827), English poet and artist
J. C. F. Hölderlin (1770-1843), German poet
Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834), English poet
Ugo Foscolo (1778-1827), Italian/Greek poet and revolutionary
‘Stendhal’, Marie-Henri Beyle (1783-1842), French novelist
Joseph Freiherr von Eichendorff (1788-1857), German poet/novelist
Heinrich Heine (1797-1856), German poet
Eugène Delacroix (1798-1863), French artist
Giacomo Leopardi (1798-1837), Italian poet
Honoré de Balzac (1799-1850), French novelist

Born in the nineteenth century
Victor Hugo (1802-85), French writer
George Sand (1804-76), French novelist
Eugène Sue (1804-57), French novelist
Gérard de Nerval (1808-55), French poet
Théophile Gautier (1811-72), French poet
William Makepeace Thackeray (1811-63), English novelist
Robert Browning (1812-89), English poet
George Eliot (1819-80), English novelist
Gottfried Keller (1819-90, Zurich), Swiss novelist
Theodor Fontane (1819-98), German novelist/poet
John Ruskin (1819-1900), English critic
Charles Baudelaire (1821-67), French poet
Fedor Dostoevskii (1821-81), Russian novelist
Gustave Flaubert (1821-80), French novelist
Théodore de Banville (1823-1891), French poet
Hippolyte Taine (1828-93), French critic
Lev Tolstoi (1828-1910), Russian novelist
Wilhelm Raabe (1831-1910), German novelist
Samuel Butler (1835-1902), English novelist
Jean-Pierre Brisset (1837-1919), French swimming instructor
Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis (1839-1908), Brazilian novelist
Walter Pater (1839-94), English critic
Émile Zola (1840-1902), French novelist
Stéphane Mallarmé (1842-98), French poet
Henry James (1843-1916), American novelist
Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900), German philosopher
Guy de Maupassant (1850-93), French novelist
Paul Bourget (1852-1935), French critic
Arthur Rimbaud (1854-91), French poet
Sigmund Freud (1856-1939), Austrian psychotherapist
Marie Bashkirtseff (1858-84), Ukrainian/French diarist
Sholem Aleichem (1859-1916), Russian playwright and novelist
Italo Svevo (1861-1928), Italian novelist
Miguel de Unamuno (1864-1936), Spanish novelist
William Butler Yeats (1865-1939), Irish poet
Léon Chestov (1866-1938), Ukrainian/French writer
Luigi Pirandello (1867-1936), Italian playwright
Marcel Proust (1871-1922), French novelist
Paul Valéry (1871-1945), French poet
Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette (1873-1954), French novelist
Alfred Jarry (1873-1907), French writer

Born in the nineteenth century (continued)
Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926), German poet
Victor Segalen (1878-1919), French poet
Sholem Asch (1880-1957), Polish/American novelist
James Joyce (1882-1941), Irish novelist
Julio Camba (1882-1962), Spanish travel writer
Federigo Tozzi (1883-1920), Italian novelist
Luis de Oteyza (1883-1961), Spanish novelist
Jean Paulhan (1884-1968), French editor
David Bergelson (1884-1952), Russian novelist
Der Nister (1884–1950), Russian poet/novelist
D. H. Lawrence (1885-1930), English novelist
Joseph Opatoshu (1886-1954), Russian/American novelist
José Moreno Villa (1887-1955), Spanish poet
Marc Chagall (1887-1985), French artist
T. S. Eliot (1888-1965), English/American poet
Fernando Pessoa (1888-1935), Portuguese poet
Gabriela Mistral (1889-1957), Chilean poet
Martin Heidegger (1889-1976), German philosopher
Yvan Goll (1891-1950), German/French writer
Teresa de Escoriaza (1891-1968), Spanish journalist
Rebecca West (1892-1983), English journalist
Walter Benjamin (1892-1940), German philosopher
Carlo Emilio Gadda (1893-1973), Italian novelist
Yannis Skarimbas (1893-1984), Greek novelist
Viktor Shklovskii (1893-1984), Russian critic
Mikhail Bakhtin (1895-1975), Russian critic
Peretz Markish (1895-1952), Russian poet
Eugenio Montale (1896-1981), Italian poet
Tristan Tzara (1896-1963), French poet
Georges Bataille (1897-1962), French critic
Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956), German playwright
Benjamin Fondane (1898-1944), Romanian/French poet
Federico García Lorca (1898-1936), Spanish poet
René Magritte (1898-1967), Belgian artist
Miguel Ángel Asturias (1899-1974), Guatemalan writer
Andrey Platonov (1899-1951), Russian novelist
Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986), Argentinian writer

Born in the twentieth century
Eduardo De Filippo (1900-84), Italian playwright
Nathalie Sarraute (1900-99), French novelist
Edgar Wind (1900-71), German/English art historian
Cecília Meireles (1901-64), Brazilian poet
Michel Leiris (1901-90), French writer
Robert Bresson (1901-99), French director
Adrian Stokes (1902-72), English critic
Marguerite Yourcenar (1903-87), French novelist
Georges Simenon (1903-89), Belgian novelist
José Maria Hinojosa (1904-36), Spanish poet
Alejo Carpentier (1904–80), Cuban writer
Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-80), French philosopher
Elias Canetti (1905-94), Bulgarian/German novelist
Pierre Klossowski (1905-2001), French writer
Samuel Beckett (1906-89), Irish playwright
Emmanuel Levinas (1906-95), French/Lithuanian philosopher
Violette Leduc (1907-72), French novelist
René Daumal (1908-44), French poet
Maurice Merleau-Ponty (1908-61), French philosopher
Simone de Beauvoir (1908-86), French philosopher
Cesare Pavese (1908-50), Italian novelist
Jean Genet (1910-86), French novelist/playwright
Stratis Tsirkas (1911-80), Greek novelist
Louise Bourgeois (1911-2010), French artist
Edmond Jabès (1912-), French/Egyptian poet
Elsa Morante (1912-85), Italian novelist
Philip Guston (1913-80), American artist
Julio Cortázar (1914-84), Argentinian writer
Marguerite Duras (1914-96), French novelist
Octavio Paz (1914-1998), Mexican poet
Roland Barthes (1915-80), French critic
Aldo Moro (1916-78), Italian politician
Natalia Ginzburg (1916-91), Italian novelist
Juan Rulfo (1917-86), Mexican writer
Robert Antelme (1917-90), French Holocaust survivor
Primo Levi (1919-87), Italian writer
Iris Murdoch (1919-99), English novelist
Paul Celan (1920-70), Romanian/German/French poet
Clarice Lispector (1920-77), Brazilian novelist
Georges Brassens (1921-81), French songwriter
Augusto Monterroso (1921-2003), Guatemalan writer
Alain Robbe-Grillet (1922-), French novelist
Yves Bonnefoy (1923-), French poet
Jorge Semprún (1923-2011), Spanish writer and politician
Italo Calvino (1923-85), Italian novelist
Barbara Hardy (1924-), English critic
Roger Laporte (1925-2001), French critic
Rosario Castellanos (1925-74), Mexican poet
Gilles Deleuze (1925-95), French philosopher
Nikos Kachtitsis (1926-70), Greek novelist
Michel Foucault (1926-84), French philosopher
Michel Butor (1926-), French novelist
Francesca Sanvitale (1928-2011), Italian novelist
Agnès Varda (1928-), French director/artist
Jean-Luc Godard (1930-), French/Swiss director
Jacques Derrida (1930-2004), French philosopher
Harold Pinter (1930-2008), English playwright
Edoardo Sanguineti (1930-2010), Italian writer and theorist
Maryse Condé (1930-), Guadeloupean novelist
Toni Morrison (1931-), American novelist
R. B. Kitaj (1932-2007), American/English artist
Georges Perec (1936-82), French novelist
Stephen Medcalf (1936-2007), English critic
Ismail Kadare (1936-), Romanian novelist
Silviano Santiago (1936-), Brazilian novelist
Seamus Heaney (1939-), Irish poet
Bessie Head (1937-86), Botswanan novelist
Hélène Cixous (1937-), French novelist
Giorgio Pressburger (1937-), Italian novelist
Terence Cave (1938-), English critic
Giuliana Morandini (1938-), Italian novelist
Seamus Heaney (1939-), Irish poet
Jean-Luc Nancy (1940-), French philosopher
Annie Ernaux (1940-), French novelist
Krzysztof Kieslowski (1941-96), Polish director
Malcolm Bowie (1943-2007), English critic
W. G. Sebald (1944-2001), German/English novelist
Adam Zagajewski (1945-), Polish poet
Gérard Macé (1946-), French writer
Jean Echenoz (1947-), French novelist
Caio Fernando Abreu (1948-96), Brazilian novelist
Claire Denis (1948-), French director
Pedro Almodóvar (1949-), Spanish director
Noëlle Renaude (1949-), French playwright
Christoph Ransmayr (1954-), Austrian writer
Hervé Guibert (1955-91), French writer/photographer
Antonio Muñoz Molina (1956-), Spanish novelist
Ana Clavel (1961-), Mexican multimedia writer
Marie NDiaye (1967-), French novelist