Fellow and Tutor in French
Tel: 01865 279189
Faculty webpage: http://www.mod-langs.ox.ac.uk/pearson
I was born in Belfast and educated first in Ireland, then in England. As an undergraduate at Exeter College, Oxford (1967-71) I studied French and German. As a postgraduate I worked on ‘Themes and techniques in the narrative works of Charles Nodier (1780-1844)’ and completed my D.Phil. in 1976. Meanwhile I had come to Queen’s in October 1973 as a full-time Lecturer in French. I was elected a Fellow and Tutor in French in October 1977 and have remained at Queen’s since then. During this time I have further contributed to college life in a variety of roles, including as Tutor for Admissions (1985-90), Senior Tutor (1995-6), and Estates Bursar (1996-2001).
I teach French language and literature to all years. I have a special interest in translation (I have published translations of Voltaire’s contes and also of novels by Zola and Maupassant), and I teach translation from French into English to all years, as well as first-year grammar classes and some translation from English into French for first- and final-year students. I teach a wide range of topics, authors, and genres across the whole span of French literature since 1715, in particular from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. My graduate supervision has been focused on nineteenth-century French literature and culture.
My research career began with French Romanticism, and I published my first book on Stendhal’s novels. After that I went simultaneously backwards and forwards. My translation of Voltaire’s Candide was first published in 1990, and this led to a comprehensive study of his contes and much more recently to a fullscale biography. At the same time I developed a deep interest in the poetry of Stéphane Mallarmé (1842-1898). This interest has now been at the centre of my research for over two decades and is reflected in three books published during that time. I am currently working on a broad study of nineteenth-century French poetry under the title of ‘The Poet as Lawgiver’ and with particular reference to how poets of the period envisaged the function of poetry and their own role(s) as poets.
- Stendhal’s Violin: A Novelist and his Reader (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1988)
- The Fables of Reason: A Study of Voltaire’s ‘contes philosophiques’ (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993)
- Unfolding Mallarmé: The Development of a Poetic Art (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996)
- Mallarmé and Circumstance: The Translation of Silence (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2004)
- Voltaire Almighty: A Life in Pursuit of Freedom (London: Bloomsbury, 2005; paperback, 2006)
- Stéphane Mallarmé (London: Reaktion Books, 2010)