Brian Nelson (literature professor)

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For other people named Brian Nelson, see Brian Nelson (disambiguation)

Brian Nelson (born 29 September 1946 in Holbeach, Lincolnshire, UK) is a professor emeritus of French Studies at Monash University, Melbourne, and editor of the Australian Journal of French Studies.[1][2]

Nelson graduated with an undergraduate degree from Cambridge University and did postgraduate work at Oxford University where he obtained his D.Phil. in 1979.[2] Before going to Monash he taught one year in Paris (1970–71) and several years at the University of Wales Aberystwyth (1973–86). In 1986, he became professor at Monash and retired in 2008.[2] Nelson taught modern French literature and cultural studies on topics such as Paris and "The Female Body", as well as translation studies.[2]

In addition to a number of monographs including Zola and the Bourgeoisie and Émile Zola: A Selective and Analytical Bibliography, he has made a number of modern translations of Émile Zola for the Oxford World's Classics series.[1][2] About these translations, Nelson said:

My aim as a translator is to transform Zola's prose into a work of art that approaches the original, that is, is faithful to the spirit of the original. This means capturing the structure and rhythms, the tone and texture, and the lexical choices --in sum, the particular idiom-- of Zola's novel, as well as preserving the "feel" of the social context out of which the novel emerged and which it represents."[3]

In addition to being editor of the Australian Journal of French Studies since 2002,[1][4] Nelson co-founded the journal Romance Studies,[1][5] edit the monograph series Monash Romance Studies,[1][2] and is President of AALITRA (the Australian Association for Literary Translation).[6][7]



  • Zola and the Bourgeoisie: A Study of Themes and Techniques in Les Rougon-Macquart (1982)
  • Émile Zola: A Selective and Analytical Bibliography (1982)
  • Naturalism in the European novel: new critical perspectives (1992)


  • The Cambridge Companion to Zola (2007)
  • Perspectives on Literature and Translation: Creation, Circulation, Reception (2013)


Awards and honours[edit]

  • Jebb Studentship (University of Cambridge) (1969–71)
  • Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Palmes Académiques (2003)
  • Runner-up, International Federation of Translators “Aurora Borealis” Prize for Outstanding Translation of Fiction (2011)
  • Elected Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities (2011)


  1. ^ a b c d e Brian Nelson (ed). The Cambridge Companion to Émile Zola. 2007
  2. ^ a b c d e f Brian Nelson, staff page at Monash University
  3. ^ Brian Nelson, The Camarago Foundation
  4. ^ Brian Nelson bio Archived March 8, 2014, at the Wayback Machine., Australian Journal of French Studies website.
  5. ^ Monash Romance Studies Archived October 20, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
  6. ^ "The Sydney PEN Translation Program" Archived April 9, 2013, at the Wayback Machine.
  7. ^ Australian Association for Literary Translation Archived June 1, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.