The Western Canon, by Harold Bloom

B. The Aristocratic Age

“It is a span of five hundred years from Dante's Divine Comedy through Goethe's Faust, Part Two [1321-1832], an era that gives us a huge body of reading in five major literatures: Italian, Spanish, English, French, and German.

“In this and in the remaining lists, I sometimes do not mention individual works by a canonical master, and in other instances I attempt to call attention to authors and books that I consider canonical but rather neglected.

“From this list onward, many good writers who are not quite central are omitted. . . . ” (p. 534)


Dante (1265 - 1321)
The Divine Comedy; The New Life.
Petrarch, 1304-1374
Lyric Poems; Selections.
Giovanni Boccaccio, 1313-1375
The Decameron.
Matteo Maria Boiardo, 1440 or 41-1494.
Orlando Innamorato.
Lodovico Ariosto, 1474-1533
Orlando Furioso.
Michelangelo Buonarroti
Sonnets and Madrigals.
Machiavelli, Niccolò, 1469–1527
The Prince; The Mandrake, a Comedy.
Leonardo da Vinci
Baldassare Castiglione
The Book of the Courtier.
Gaspara Stampa
Sonnets and Madrigals.
Giorgio Vasari
Lives of the Painters.
Benvenuto Cellini, 1500–1571
Torquato Tasso
Jerusalem Delivered.
Giordano Bruno
The Expulsion of the Triumphant Beast.
Tommaso Campanella, 1568-1639
Poems; The City of the Sun.
Giambattista Vico
Principles of a New Science.
Carlo Goldoni
The Servant of Two Masters.
Vittorio Alfieri


Camoëns, Luis de.
The Lusiads.
Ferreira, Antònio.


Jorge Manrique
Fernando de Rojas
La Celestina.
Lazarillo de Tormes.
Francisco de Quevedo
Visions; Satirical Letter of Censure.
León, Fray Luis de.
St. John of the Cross
Góngora, Luis de.
Sonnets; Soledades.
Miguel de Cervantes, 1547-1616
Don Quixote; Exemplary Stories.
Lope de Vega
La Dorotea; Fuente Ovejuna; Lost in a Mirror; The Knight of Olmedo.
Tirso de Molina
The Trickster of Seville.
Pedro Calderon de la Barca, 1600–1681
Life is a Dream; The Mayor of Zalamea; The Mighty Magician; The Doctor of His Own Honor.
Cruz, Sor Juana Inés de la.

England and Scotland

Chaucer, Geoffrey (ca.1343-1400)
The Canterbury Tales; Troilus and Criseyde.
Thomas Malory, 1430-1471
Le Morte D'Arthur.
William Dunbar
John Skelton
Thomas More, 1478-1535
Thomas Wyatt.
Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey
Philip Sidney, 1554-1586.
The Countess of Pembroke's Arcadia; Astrophel and Stella; An Apology for Poetry.
Fulke Greville, Lord Brooke
Edmund Spenser, 1552-1599
The Faerie Queene; The Minor Poems.
Walter Ralegh,
Christopher Marlowe, 1564-1593
Poems and Plays.
Michael Drayton
Samuel Daniel
Poems; A Defence of Ryme.
Thomas Nashe, 1567-1601
The Unfortunate Traveller.
Thomas Kyd
The Spanish Tragedy.
William Shakespeare, 1564-1616
Plays and Poems.
Thomas Campion
John Donne, 1572-1631
Poems; Sermons.
Ben Jonson, 1573-1637
Poems, Plays, and Masques.
Francis Bacon, 1561–1626
Robert Burton, 1577–1640
The Anatomy of Melancholy.
Thomas Browne, 1605–1682
Religio Medici; Hydriotaphia, or Urne-Buriall; The Garden of Cyrus.
Thomas Hobbes, 1588–1679
Herrick, Robert, 1591-1674
Thomas Carew
Richard Lovelace
Andrew Marvell, 1621-1678
George Herbert
The Temple.
Thomas Traherne
Centuries, Poems, and Thanksgivings.
Henry Vaughan
John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester.
Richard Crashaw
Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher.
George Chapman
Comedies, Tragedies, Poems.
John Ford, 1586-ca.1640
'Tis Pity She's a Whore.
John Marston
The Malcontent.
John Webster, c.1580-c.1634
The White Devil; The Duchess of Malfi.
Thomas Middleton and William Rowley.
The Changeling.
Cyril Tourneur
The Revenger's Tragedy.
Philip Massinger
A New Way to Pay Old Debts.
John Bunyan
The Pilgrim's Progress.
Izaak Walton, 1593-1683
The Compleat Angler.
John Milton, 1608-1674
Paradise Lost; Paradise Regained; Lycidas, Comus, and the Minor Poems; Samson Agonistes; Areopagitica.
John Aubrey, 1626–1697
Brief Lives.
Jeremy Taylor
Holy Dying.
Samuel Butler, 1612-1680
John Dryden, 1631-1700
Poetry and Plays; Critical Essays.
Thomas Otway
Venice Preserv'd.
William Congreve
The Way of the World; Love for Love.
Jonathan Swift, 1667-1745
A Tale of a Tub; Gulliver's Travels; Shorter Prose Works; Poems.
George Etherege
The Man of Mode.
Alexander Pope, 1688-1744
John Gay, 1685-1732
The Beggar's Opera.
James Boswell, 1740-1795
Life of Johnson; Journals.
Samuel Johnson, 1709–1784
Edward Gibbon, 1737–1794
The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.
Edmund Burke, 1729–1797
A Philosophical Enquiry into the Sublime and Beautiful; Reflections on the Revolution in France.
Maurice Morgann
An Essay on the Dramatic Character of Sir John Falstaff.
William Collins
George Farquhar
The Beaux' Strategem; The Recruiting Officer.
William Wycherley
The Country Wife; The Plain Dealer.
Christopher Smart
Jubilate Agno; A Song to David.
Oliver Goldsmith, 1728-1774
The Vicar of Wakefield; She Stoops to Conquer; The Traveller; The Deserted Village.
Richard Brinsley Sheridan, 1751–1816
The School of Scandal; The Rivals.
William Cowper, 1731-1800
Poetical Works.
George Crabbe
Poetical Works.
Defoe, Daniel (1661?-1731)
Moll Flanders; Robinson Crusoe; A Journal of the Plague Year.
Samuel Richardson, 1689-1761.
Clarissa; Pamela; Sir Charles Grandison.
Henry Fielding, 1707-1754
Joseph Andrews; The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling.
Tobias Smollett, 1721-1771
The Expedition of Humphry Clinker; The Adventures of Roderick Random.
Laurence Sterne, 1713-1768
The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman; A Sentimental Journey Through France and Italy.
Fanny Burney, 1752-1840
Joseph Addison and Richard Steele.
The Spectator.


Jean Froissart, 1337-1405
Chronicles; The Song of Roland.
François Villon,
Michel de Montaigne, 1533-1592
Francois Rabelais, 1494?-1553?
Gargantua and Pantagruel.
Marguerite de Navarre, 1492–1549
The Heptameron.
Joachim Du Bellay,
The Regrets.
Maurice Scève,
Pierre Ronsard
Odes, Elegies, Sonnets.
Philippe de Commynes
Agrippa d'Aubigné,
Les Tragiques.
Robert Garnier
Mark Antony; The Jewesses.
Pierre Corneille
The Cid; Polyeucte; Nicomède; Horace; Cinna; Rodogune.
François de La Rochefoucauld,
Jean de La Fontaine, 1621-1695
Molière, 1622-1673
The Misanthrope; Tartuffe; The School for Wives; The Learned Ladies; Don Juan; School for Husbands; Ridiculous Precieuses; The Would-Be Gentleman; The Miser; The Imaginary Invalid.
Blaise Pascal, 1623–1662
Bosuet, Jacques-Bénigne.
Funerary Orations.
Boileau-Despréaux, Nicolas.
The Art of Poetry; Lutrin.
Jean Racine
Phaedra; Andromache; Britannicus; Athaliah.
Pierre Carlet de Marivaux,
Seven Comedies.
Rousseau, Jean–Jacques, 1712–1778
The Confessions; Émile; La Nouvelle Héloïse.
Voltaire, 1694-1778
Zadig; Candide; Letters on England; The Lisbon Earthquake.
Abbe Prevost
Manon Lescaut.
Madame de La Fayette,
The Princess of Cleves.
Chamfort, Sébastien-Roch Nicolas de.
Products of the Perfected Civilization.
Denis Diderot
Rameau's Nephew.
Pierre Choderlos de Laclos, 1741-1803
Dangerous Liaisons.


Erasmus of Rotterdam, 1466–1536
In Praise of Folly.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, 1749–1832
Faust, Parts One and Two; Dichtung und Wahrheit; Egmont; Elective Affinities; The Sorrows of Young Werther; Poems; Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship; Wilhelm Meister's Years of Wandering; Italian Journey; Verse Plays; Hermann and Dorothea; Roman Elegies; Venetian Epigrams; West-Eastern Divan.
Friedrich Schiller, 1759-1805
The Robbers; Mary Stuart; Wallenstein; Don Carlos; On the Naïve and Sentimental in Literature.
Gotthold Lessing
Laocoön; Nathan the Wise.
Freidrich Hölderlin,
Hymns and Fragments; Selected Poems.
Heinrich von Kleist
Five Plays; Stories.

Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:56