Brian Nelson (literature professor)

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.

Nelson graduated with an undergraduate degree from Cambridge University and did postgraduate work at Oxford University where he obtained his D.Phil. in 1979.[1] 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.[1] Nelson taught modern French literature and cultural history, and literary translation.[1]

In addition to a number of monographs including Zola and the Bourgeoisie and Émile Zola: A Selective Analytical Bibliography, he has made a number of modern translations of Émile Zola for the Oxford World's Classics series.[2][1] Speaking about his translation of The Belly of Paris, 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]

Nelson was formerly the editor of the Australian Journal of French Studies (2002-2020),[2][4] co-founded the journal Romance Studies,[2][5] edited the monograph series Monash Romance Studies,[2][1] and is a former 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 Analytical Bibliography (1982)
  • The Cambridge Introduction to French Literature (2015)
  • Emile Zola: A Very Short Introduction (2020)


  • Naturalism in the European novel: New Critical Perspectives (1992)
  • After Blanchot: Literature, Philosophy, Criticism (2005)
  • The Cambridge Companion to Zola (2007)
  • Perspectives on Literature and Translation: Creation, Circulation, Reception (2013)


Awards and honoursEdit

  • 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)
  • Winner of the Translation Prize, New South Wales Premier's Literary Awards (2015)[8]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Brian Nelson staff page". Monash University. Retrieved November 25, 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d Brian Nelson, ed. (2007). The Cambridge Companion to Émile Zola. Cambridge Press.
  3. ^ "Brian Nelson". The Camarago Foundation.[dead link]
  4. ^ "Brian Nelson bio". Australian Journal of French Studies. Archived from the original on 2014-03-08.
  5. ^ "Monash Romance Studies". Monash University. Archived from the original on 2009-10-20.
  6. ^ "The Sydney PEN Translation Program". Sydney PEN. Archived from the original on 2013-04-09.
  7. ^ "Australian Association for Literary Translation". AALITRA website. Archived from the original on 2009-06-01.
  8. ^ "New South Wales Premier's Literary Awards" (PDF). SL Magazine. 8 (4): 36. Summer 2015.