Considered one of the masterpieces of world-renowned naturalist Emile Zola, "Nana" is his finely written work on the demimonde of France's failing Second Empire. A symbolically compounded novel, it follows the rise and fall of Nana, a street-walking prostitute who becomes an actress at the Théâtre des Variétés. Though apparently independent and self-confident in her role of 'high-class cocette,' Nana envies the material possessions of the people around her, and the series of besotted men, and occasionally women, whom she betrays and ruins are a testament to her selfishness and vanity. What is surprising is Zola's genius in creating the strength and generosity of Nana, the elemental goodness in an unintelligent woman who can't seem to prevent herself from initiating chaos. Though she advances through society, she ultimately only manages to fall from greater heights, taking on an almost mythical quality even as she remains eminently realistic.
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NanaUser 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