Nana (Google eBook)

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Courier Dover Publications, Sep 21, 2012 - Fiction - 352 pages
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We first meet Nana in the Variety Theatre, where the captivating eighteen-year-old is appearing in the lead role of a musical—even though she can't act or sing. "Nana has something that makes up for everything else," the theater owner explains, and he's right. Instead of booing her off the stage, the crowd howls with admiration. She has disrobed by the third act, and her career as a femme fatale is off to a sensational start.
Nana crawls out of the gutter to ascend the heights of Parisian society, devouring men and squandering fortunes along the way. Zola begins the story of French realism's most beguiling siren in 1867, amid the decadence and moral decay of France's Gilded Age. Nana's corruption reflects the spirit of her era, her prostitution symbolizing the degenerate state of Second Empire politics and society. Hailed as one of the first modern novels, Nana addresses contemporary subjects with realistic observations, dialogue, and scenarios. Its publication sparked a heated controversy that made it an overnight bestseller, and it has long since reigned as a classic of French literature.
  

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Nana

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

This rather risque novel--for 1880 that is--tells the story of ruthless protagonist Nana's rise from the gutter to the height of Parisian society. The book's heavy allusion to sexual favors caused it to be denounced as pornography upon publication, which, of course, made it a big hit. Read full review

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About the author (2012)

Zola was the spokesperson for the naturalist novel in France and the leader of a school that championed the infusion of literature with new scientific theories of human development drawn from Charles Darwin (see Vol. 5) and various social philosophers. The theoretical claims for such an approach, which are considered simplistic today, were outlined by Zola in his Le Roman Experimental (The Experimental Novel, 1880). He was the author of the series of 20 novels called The Rougon-Macquart, in which he attempted to trace scientifically the effects of heredity through five generations of the Rougon and Macquart families. Three of the outstanding volumes are L'Assommoir (1877), a study of alcoholism and the working class; Nana (1880), a story of a prostitute who is a femme fatale; and Germinal (1885), a study of a strike at a coal mine. All gave scope to Zola's gift for portraying crowds in turmoil. Today Zola's novels have been appreciated by critics for their epic scope and their visionary and mythical qualities. He continues to be immensely popular with French readers. His newspaper article "J'Accuse," written in defense of Alfred Dreyfus, launched Zola into the public limelight and made him the political conscience of his country.

Burton Rascoe (1892–1957) worked as an editor and critic for numerous newspapers and magazines, including the Chicago Tribune, Vanity Fair, Esquire, and Newsweek, and was the author of nine books. Glenda Riley is Alexander M. Bracken Professor Emerita of History at Ball State University. She is the author of Women and Nature: Saving the “Wild” West (Nebraska 1999) and Taking Land, Breaking Land: Women Colonizing the American West and Kenya, 1840–1940.

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