3.01 Literature

A Note About the Literature Section

There are a few things to keep in mind when studying this section

  • You will most likely only get one question on literature in the IMAT, so do not overstudy!
  • The literature section tends to focus mostly on European literature and to a lessor degree American
  • Be concise with your note taking, you should not try to understand what entire books are about, the focus is just to remember certain specific pieces of information about them

What to Know About the Author?

When studying for the literature section make sure you study by the author as appose to learning facts about individual pieces of literature. This will allow you to memorize more information.

For an author you should know the following…

  1. Their name, who they were, where they were from
  2. When they lived (roughly)
  3. Any special significance the author had
  4. The most important books they wrote

Example: Voltaire

I will show you how a good summary of an author looks with Voltaire as an example…

  1. Voltaire (François-Marie Arouet) was a French Enlightenment writer, historian, and philosopher
  2. Lived during the late 1600s to late 1700s
  3. One of the Enlightenment’s most important thinkers, famous for his criticism of the catholic church and of his support for freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and separation of church and state
  4. Writings…
  • Candide: A short novel (novella) about a man named Candide who starts off with great optimism in life and then after travelling and experiencing hardship develops a greater level of disillusionment 
  • Henriade: An epic poem in honour of a French king and concerning the political state of France. 
  • Treatise on Tolerance: A philosophical work calling for religious tolerance and criticizes fanaticism.

Voltaire wrote more than what is just written above, but these are some of the most important works. You can of course, if you have time, go deeper. 

You should also try read or watch a quick summary of the books written by the author, so that you have a better idea of what the book is about. This will avoid you mixing up books with each other. 

List of Authors to Study

*Note: Some authors fall into sections such as philosophy, economics etc, I have not included these authors in the below list as they will be covered in other sections. 

*Note: Non-English-speaking authors generally wrote the title of their book in their native language and that title has an English translation. For the IMAT you should remember the English name. 

  • For example, Dante was an Italian, and his book is titled Divina Commedia, but you should remember the name Divine Comedy for IMAT purposes

Most important (in no particular order) …



Leo Tolstoy

Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Miguel de Cervantes

Desiderius Erasmus

Charles Dickens

Agatha Christie

Alexander Pushkin

Giovanni Verga

Luigi Pirandello

Dante Alighieri


Jules Verne

Niccolò Machiavelli

Giovanni Boccaccio

Alessandro Manzoni

Carlo Collodi


Beowulf (the name of the author is unknown)

Giovanni Pascoli

William Shakespeare



Francesco Petrarca

Ludovico Ariosto

Alberto Moravia



Alessandro Manzoni

Gabriele D’Annunzio

Important (in no particular order)

Jonathan Swift

Gustave Flaubert

Mark Twain


William Golding

F. Scott Fitzgerald

Victor Hugo

C.S Lewis


Ian Fleming

Elena Ferrante

Ernest Hemingway

Herbert George Wells

James Joyce

Charlotte Brontë

Marcel Proust

Robert Louis Stevenson

Harper Lee

Murasaki Shikibu

T.S. Eliot

George Orwell

Alexandre Dumas

Herman Melville

Jane Austen

Emily Brontë

Daniel Dafoe

Laurence Sterne

J.R.R. Tolkien

Sun Tzu

Robert Frost

Edgar Allan Poe

Less important

You can (if you have time) add more authors than just the ones listed above.

  • But make sure not to overstudy!

What about more modern authors?

  • It is less likely to show up on the IMAT, so only focus on more modern writers if you have plenty of time
  • These authors include those such as JK Rowling, Dan Brown, Stieg Larsson etc. 
  • Search for the most famous modern writers and you will find many that you can learn about