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In the year of the fabulous Paris World s Fair, of 1867, when the glamorous city is crowded, with thrill seeking foreign and domestic visitors, Nana Coupeau, a prostitute, makes her unlikely debut also, on stage, in The Blonde Venus , a spectacular but mediocre operetta That she can t dance, sing or act, and has a horrible voice, doesn t matter, what is important, Nana is quite beautiful and has charisma, Monsieur Bordenave, the nervous owner of the shabby Opera House, Varietes , isn t worried In the year of the fabulous Paris World s Fair, of 1867, when the glamorous city is crowded, with thrill seeking foreign and domestic visitors, Nana Coupeau, a prostitute, makes her unlikely debut also, on stage, in The Blonde Venus , a spectacular but mediocre operetta That she can t dance, sing or act, and has a horrible voice, doesn t matter, what is important, Nana is quite beautiful and has charisma, Monsieur Bordenave, the nervous owner of the shabby Opera House, Varietes , isn t worried he tells his friends on Opening Night they almost believe him And Bordenave was right, Nana becomes the symbol of the decadent, French Second Empire, of Napoleon the Third, her half naked, stunning performances, just standing there, in front of the curious, enthusiastic, enthralled audiences, becomes the sensation of the city, overnight the unknown, poor woman, reaches the pinnacle of success, at 15, countless affluent, adoring, some very famous suitors, throw money at her feet, taking advantage to enrich herself, bed hopping with hundreds of men and women no exaggeration , strangely but maybe not, Nana despises them Spending money recklessly and there are many others around, who do the same, sex seems to be all that anyone does, in this society, as written by Emile Zola, a fierce critic of the regime, corruption, scandals, thievery, anything goes Ultimately the new star, meets Count Muffat, a honorable, married, but unhappy man, who set s her up in a huge mansion, full of luxuries, expensive jewelry, furniture , clothing, food, servants, only the best for his unfaithful love Still Nana, who s hair is blonde on one page and red on another , what gives Zola , gets bored easily, while spending money faster, than it comes in Men are always lurking about, everywhere in the premises, slaves to strong emotions, they can t control, or understand, the helplessly infatuated Count, is powerless to stop the debauchery, he is too much in love and can only hope, for a short time with his mistress Zoe her good friend and servant, runs the house, taking care of Nana s every need, Satin an old schoolmate, and fellow traveler, in their former profession, moves in, and they begin a lesbian affair, which the very jealous Count , doesn t mind a bit These two tarts, the word is continuously used in the book, by the author, seem to be the happiest together, not caring for the rest of the world, just enjoying being in the same company, hours pass quickly and quietly Sex rains down like a torrent, striking everyone, drowning them in lust, corrupting and finally destroying I liked it You ve heard of The Hooker With A Heart Of Gold Well, this is the other kind. Here s why Nana should never be made into a movie Too late It already has been Four times Emile Zola has created a character so preposterous that casting agents in every corner of the globe would be hard pressed to locate an actress capable of making her believable Now I am not claiming that a woman like Nana could not exist because our world is certainly chock full of the preposterous but she would necessarily be so exceptional such an astounding confluence of so many unlikely variable Here s why Nana should never be made into a movie Too late It already has been Four times Emile Zola has created a character so preposterous that casting agents in every corner of the globe would be hard pressed to locate an actress capable of making her believable Now I am not claiming that a woman like Nana could not exist because our world is certainly chock full of the preposterous but she would necessarily be so exceptional such an astounding confluence of so many unlikely variables that her successful imitators must surely be just as rare The part of Nana would require not only acting wherewithal, but also a physical allure not a traditional beauty perhaps, but a certain je ne sais quoi so commanding that men and women too of every station in life, every class, and every moral conviction consider themselves powerless to resist her What could such a woman possibly look like She couldn t be adequately described, I don t think, because there would be something ineffable or even transcendent about her looks which would resist the banality of all the adjectives at our disposal Oh, and did I mention she has to be trashy too There has to be the well trafficked cooter stench if only subliminal of a Kardashian about her In other words, I m not seeing Katherine Heigl or Keira Knightley in the role One of the advantages of reading over film viewing is that I can imagine Nana any way that I want Zola provides a few descriptors along the way plump, tall, blonde, large thighed but these are fairly neutral construction materials which can be fashioned into an architecture of my choosing My imagination, safely tucked away in the cellars of my mind, also isn t subject to the disapproval of others You think that s attractive The spectral Nana of my conjuring becomes the authoritative Nana Because she seduces me, she seduces everyone.Let s talkabout this Nana There s really no getting around it she s a cruel, calculating, ridiculous woman She allows men into her life only to suck every last sou out of them and to send them, spitefully, on their way She manipulates their affections drawing them in to a sexual complacency and then, when she s taken everything she wants or gets bored, she belittles and abuses them and, finally, throws them out A primary victim of her allure although there are many is Count Muffat, an older, distinguished, and erstwhile religiously devout man who ruins himself completely in his futile attempts to possess Nana Nana cheats on him so often and so flagrantly that she seems like a sexual vending machine Anyone with the cash on hand is entitled to a bag of Funyuns.Based on what I ve told you, you probably won t be surprised that Nana has been attacked as a misogynistic work If you approach the book prepared to understand Nana as symbolic, in whatever sense, of all women and to infer that many of the male characters attitudes toward women are the author s own, then you will likely find Nana a repellent novel written by a repellent man I, on the other hand, view Nana not as the Woman, but merely a woman The misogyny of the male characters in the book, meanwhile, doesn t strike me as Zola s, given what I know about him his avowed goal in his twenty volume Rougon Macquart series was to shine a scientific light on the central role of social environment and heredity in the psychological determination of the individual Nana s parents were poor, alcoholic, and abusive Should we wonder that Nana ends up being this woman in this particular society Is Zola blaming it on her gender I don t think so Of course, many of Zola s views on heredity seem ridiculous today, but no sane person doubts the tremendous effect of environment on the formation of an individual s character I don t think anybody, male or female, comes off very well in this novel We sometimes say that realists provide us with a warts and all depiction of reality, but I think Zola prefers to dwell on the warts in Nana and he certainly doesn t restrict himself to the title character s Zola, on the one hand, clearly had a somewhat pessimistic view of the ills of society, but I think and this is pure speculation here he found some kind of hope in being able to illuminate these ills so that they could be remedied or guarded against Lastly, a few practical notes I read the creaky, dusty, and very British public domain translation published by Barnes and Noble It was written in 1922, I believe I m taking it as a article of faith that there is a better translation out there maybethan one If you decide to read Nana, seek outopinions on translations because I m guessing this one isn t the best bet Also, this novel takes a while to really sink into At the beginning, it s a little confusing particularly at Countess Sabine s party because there are a LOT of characters But if you soldier on, I think you ll find yourself starting to like it at about the one hundred page mark Disclaimer Whereas I usually try to be objective with my ratings and reviews, with this specific one, I allowed my gut to lead me.I hated this novel for it s sanctimonious preaching and its rank offensively aggressive misogynism or perhaps, as has been remarked, it is misanthropy, plain and simple..since both men and women are ripped to shreds by the sharp lash of Zola s tongue pen.The general milieu in the period of history that this novel is set in, was very unkind to the poor, so good Disclaimer Whereas I usually try to be objective with my ratings and reviews, with this specific one, I allowed my gut to lead me.I hated this novel for it s sanctimonious preaching and its rank offensively aggressive misogynism or perhaps, as has been remarked, it is misanthropy, plain and simple..since both men and women are ripped to shreds by the sharp lash of Zola s tongue pen.The general milieu in the period of history that this novel is set in, was very unkind to the poor, so good luck, I say, to those who could manage to claw their way out of the gutter of poverty by whatever means possible.Yet, the impression I get from the way Zola describes things and the language he uses, is that he seems to be condemning those who managed to do so He is supposed to be writing from the point of view of a paradigm of naturalism, but take it from a pro Darwinst who believes to a large extent that humans are made up of reasonably equal parts of nature and nurture, that Zola sounds pretty judgmental for someone who is trying to show that people are merely the results of their circumstances.One of the things that caused me a high level of discomfort with this novel, is that to me it felt I suppose that part of the impressions I got might be due to the translation it s often quite hard to gauge a translated work appropriately as if the special quality about Nana seemed to be presented as something animal, some animal charisma, something that resounded in her admirers in their most base natures, the most animal part of their psyche.Perhaps that is what made me feel so uncomfortable is how readily Zola s characters responded to this animal aspect I think it was a clever device by Zola to add to the reader s disgust Perhaps his aim was to induce a feeling of shame in his contemporaries Which brings me to the point that I don t think feminist readers will necessarily see Nana as symbolic of ALL women, but rather symbolic of the sexual woman I think that on an instinctual level, I saw her as symbolic of women who embrace their sexuality, and in this case, one of the women who uses her sexuality to gain power over men and destroy them No doubt there are such women, of course there are I know some of them and are myself repelled by a few of them but Zola, in this specific novel, doesn t seem to try and counterbalance the typical stereotype of the scary, nasty man eater with any positive female in juxtaposition with the nasty disgusting creature, who uses her animal cunning, her pheromones and her vagina to devour men whole To make matters worse, Nana can t even be credited with really having used her brain or possessing anything of the sort she is simply a thoughtless, base, ball of cunning Her selfish exploitation of other humans seems to be of an instinctive, thoughtless variety, like the scorpion who stings simply because it is in the creature s nature.I think I m probably a bit tired of the spectre of the vagina dentata myth, and my reaction admittedly a visceral one can probably be explained in light of my exasperation with it.I sometimes post images on my reviews A picture is worth a thousand words, they say Well, the following portrait doesn t quite contain 1000 words, but it does give you a good picture of NanaShe alone was left standing, amid the accumulated riches of her mansion, while a host of men lay stricken at her feet Like those monsters of ancient times whose fearful domains were covered with skeletons, she rested her feet on human skulls and was surrounded by catastrophesThe fly that had come from the dungheap of the slums, carrying the ferment of social decay, had poisoned all these men simply by alighting on them It was fitting and just She had avenged the beggars and outcasts of her world And while, as it were, her sex rose in a halo of glory and blazed down on her prostrate victims like a rising sun shining down on a field of carnage, she remained as unconscious of her actions as a splendid animal, ignorant of the havoc she had wreaked, and as good natured as ever..and would you call Zola classist, perhaps Dang, I should have done a Marxist review of this would have had a field day Zola s ninth instalment in the Rougon Macquart cycle tells the tale of steely hearted coquette Nana part time actress, part time prostitute, full time booty shaking Venus mantrap The first quarter of the novel is a bacchanalian romp through the Th tre des Vari t s demimonde, introducing Nana s rolling revue of sexual partners and sugar daddies After her semi nude debut where she shows off her corncrake singing voice , she has all Paris s men drooling at her calves First she settles down w Zola s ninth instalment in the Rougon Macquart cycle tells the tale of steely hearted coquette Nana part time actress, part time prostitute, full time booty shaking Venus mantrap The first quarter of the novel is a bacchanalian romp through the Th tre des Vari t s demimonde, introducing Nana s rolling revue of sexual partners and sugar daddies After her semi nude debut where she shows off her corncrake singing voice , she has all Paris s men drooling at her calves First she settles down with the abusive comic actor Fontan who slaps her around and steals her lamb cutlets Next she humours the doting teenager Georges before yielding to the tortured Count Muffat a nobleman corrupted by sensual urges, willing to surrender his fortune to collapse into Nana s arms As fun as the decadent antics are, the novel is festooned with exhaustive room to room descriptionsso than the overcooked Ladies Paradise , which is common for Zola, but far too many pages are bogged down in tedious, prolix passages Like this mouthful The velvet drapes, flesh coloured like the tea rose pink sky on fine evenings when Venus is gleaming against the soft glow of the setting sun on the horizon, were dotted with the bright stars of silver buttons, while the barley sugar gilt mouldings descending from each corner and the gold lace round the central panels seemed like darting flames, tresses of red hair floating loose, half veiling the stark simplicity of the room and emphasizing its voluptuous cool tints p.400 I know I also found the novel lacking focus, flitting from character to character in a very distracting way, making it hard to lock on to the story Nana s moral corruption as moralising metaphor or sink your teeth into Nana as a fully rounded filly out for our hatred or sympathy The characters behaviour isludicrously OTT than in other Zola novels where OTT is a philosophy, but he s really pushing it here, esp with Muffat The central flaw in Nana her charms are never properly delineated By Zola s account, she is chubby, broad hipped and whorish To have all Paris s men begging at her feet, she d need to be muchthan a pretty face with a tongue like a New York cabbie Still, this novel offers a change from the po faced social realism of his other famous works A closing limerick Little Count Muffat sat on his tuffet praying his soul to stayalong came that Nanaas quick as ma anaand sent him to hell that day IntroductionSelect BibliographyA Chronology of mile Zola Nana Explanatory Notes |Free E-pub ⚆ Nanà ♶ Libro scandaloso , contro il quale si scagli quella societ del Secondo Impero avviata alla guerra che Zola ritrae impietosamente, il romanzo inizia con l evocazione del fantasma di Bismarck e si chiuse col triplice grido A Berlino che sale dal boulevard sotto il Grand Hotel dove morta Nan , orrendamente sfigurata dal vaiolo Pubblicato a puntate sul settimanale Le Voltaire tra ile il , e poi edito subito in volume, Nanrimane forse il romanzo pi noto di Zola la biografia di un personaggio che subito rapprensent , per innumerevoli lettori, il mito del sesso inestricabilmente legato alla distruzione e alla morte Il libro, che contiene pagine tra le pi alte e riuscite del grande narratore francese, dimostra la capacit di Zola di eccellere nella creazione di gruppi umani e sociali, con uno sguardo acutissimo e moderno I can imagine the outrage this novel probably one of those racy French novels kept out of the hands of proper Victorian ladies provoked at the time of publication with its explicit portrait of a actress cum prostitute Zola didn t write to titillate he himself was outraged as usual at a society that was bored, wasteful and decadent, caring only for its own pleasure, thinking nothing of the future, its own excesses causing its collapse I went back and forth wondering whether Zola was blamin I can imagine the outrage this novel probably one of those racy French novels kept out of the hands of proper Victorian ladies provoked at the time of publication with its explicit portrait of a actress cum prostitute Zola didn t write to titillate he himself was outraged as usual at a society that was bored, wasteful and decadent, caring only for its own pleasure, thinking nothing of the future, its own excesses causing its collapse I went back and forth wondering whether Zola was blaming Nana or the men for the destruction of marriages, careers and morals and my best guess is the blame is on both, a perfect storm of receptiveness of these upper class men to the raw sexuality of one woman, a woman who is her body only Though Zola is a naturalist, Nana is not realistic with these superwoman powers of hers She is described as a literal man eater consumer but her partners are willing, or as willing as slaves to their own sexual natures can be In the second half of the book the depiction of Nana reminded me of the stories told about Marie Antoinette by her enemies, though Nana is without pedigree, being the offspring of two alcoholics from the slums of Paris see L Assommoir.Thoughcomplex than The Fat and the Thin, this is my least favorite Zola so far I ve read three others , mostly because I don t care for descriptions of luxury and opulence, though I understand their purpose here The lives of the aristocratic men worshiping at the altar of this theatrical and concupiscent Venus were not only uninteresting to me, but most of them blended together, which I m sure was intentional but made the story repetitive Zola throws the reader into the scenes in his usual cinematic way his powers of observation are prodigious Some of the symbolism is obvious, but the writing is wonderful and this translation is earthy Zola wrote this to parallel the French Empire, but the reader today will see parallels with our own cult of sexual celebrity There s even a woman named Gaga A raw critic view of the enriched Parisian society in the late XIXth century.The degradation, the hypocritical standards, the morals and conscience of a corrupted society.All tattooed in the flesh of Nana, a prostitute of high standards but low esteem. Joy unlimited A long, long time ago my kindly Headmaster recommended I broaden my reading prior to university, and gave me Germinal I read it somewhat dutifully and marked as done, a knowledge of Zola Now, man years later, I can read at last And this book that has been staring from my shelf for years has bombed me out Nana is a carbonated torrent of the most high speed and energetic writing I have come across Decay, decadence, death, power, class, cruelty, the brilliant equation of the mus Joy unlimited A long, long time ago my kindly Headmaster recommended I broaden my reading prior to university, and gave me Germinal I read it somewhat dutifully and marked as done, a knowledge of Zola Now, man years later, I can read at last And this book that has been staring from my shelf for years has bombed me out Nana is a carbonated torrent of the most high speed and energetic writing I have come across Decay, decadence, death, power, class, cruelty, the brilliant equation of the muscular contractions of the body in the rapture of sexual pleasure with the ice cold falling prostrate to some purified and alien God that stands above the mess and filth and stink of humanity Not a single redeemable character, uet by magic all of them are redeemed More, muchfrom Zola