Nana (Les Rougon-Macquart, #9)
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Nana (Les Rougon-Macquart #9)

3.84 of 5 stars 3.84  ·  rating details  ·  10,370 ratings  ·  275 reviews
One of the founders of literary naturalism, Émile Zola thought of his novels as a form of scientific research into the effects of heredity & environment. He created characters, gave them richly detailed histories, & placed them in carefully observed, precisely described environments. His readers watch as they wriggle & thrash toward their inevitable destinies.
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Paperback, 473 pages
Published (first published 1880)
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The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-ExupéryLes Misérables by Victor HugoThe Stranger by Albert CamusThe Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre DumasMadame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
Best French Literature
31st out of 499 books — 942 voters
Pride and Prejudice by Jane AustenJane Eyre by Charlotte BrontëWuthering Heights by Emily BrontëThe Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar WildeAlice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll
Best Books of the 19th Century
148th out of 589 books — 3,238 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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David
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...more
Traveller
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...more
Henry Avila
In the year of the fabulous Paris World's Fair, of 1867. Nana, a prostitute. Makes her debut also.On stage,in "The Blonde Venus".An operetta.That she can't dance, sing or act.And has a horrible voice. Doesn't matter. Nana is beautiful and most important. Has charisma.Monsieur Bordenave, the owner of the Opera House,"Varietes".Isn't worried,he tells his friends on Opening Night.And he was right.She becomes the symbol of the decadent. French Second Empire, of Napoleon the Third. Her half naked, st...more
MJ Nicholls
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 Théâtre des Variétés 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...more
Manny
You've heard of The Hooker With A Heart Of Gold? Well, this is the other kind.
Abailart
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...more
Jason
I get it--Nana rose from a fetid pile of garbage and alighted arbitrarily on the upper crust of Parisian society, staining it.

I get it--Nana exposed the myriad faces of man's desires, disgracing them.

I get it--Nana digested men wholly and selfishly, wildly prostituting herself.

I get it, but only in the last couple hundred pages. I'm an ardent fan of Emile Zola, especially the 20 part Les Rougan-Macquart series. His writing is powerful. However, the first 200 pages of Nana was downright boring. T...more
Chrissie
Now I have listened to 5 hours, and do not like this at all. I have decided to dump it. I find the book boring and the characters unintelligent, with despicable behavior. I don't feel pity or empathy for any of them. Couldn't Zola have thrown in some humor? OK, Zola was a naturalist, but is it realistic to collect together such a bunch of loosers? Are people really this bad? And I am sick to death of the soirées, one after another filled with empty talk and drunkenness. Those at the soirées are...more
Bob
It started with my admission (principally to myself, though I placed it on my blog, which means principally to myself) that I didn't know the difference between realism and naturalism - still figuring it out, but I think naturalism means you don't have to have a plot.
Joana Marta
A crónica do Fauchery, intitulada a Mosca de Oiro, era a história de uma rapariga descendente de quatro ou cinco gerações de bêbados, o sangue estragado por uma hereditariedade de miséria e de bebedeira, que nela se transformava num desequilíbrio nervoso do seu sexo de mulher. Brotara num bairro, nas ruelas parisienses; e alta, bela, de carnes soberbas, tal qual uma planta de estrumeira, vingava os vadios e os abandonados de que era produto. Com ela, a podridão que deixavam fermentar no povo, to...more
Hugo Emanuel
Nana - devoradora de homens e de fortunas. Nana – animalidade lasciva capaz de transformar libidinosa atracção na mais abjecta servidão. Nana – cortesã elevada á personificação mítica da fúria vingativa da miséria, vicio e corrupção sobre as falsas pretensões de moralidade e rectitude com que se trajavam os escalões mais altos da sociedade do Sec. XIX. Nana – um dos instrumentos utilizados por Zola para expor e revelar algum do excesso e ganância que transbordou do primeiro capitalismo liberal....more
Elizabeth (Alaska)
Nana is the daughter of Gervaise from L'Assommoir (The Dram Shop). Nana is a prostitute, hedonist, and narcissist. She has enormous sex appeal, able to attract men of enormous wealth with the crook of her finger.

It was very interesting reading this practically on the heels of Balzac's Cousin Bette, which had a similar theme. Balzac is told more from the view of the men, while Zola told from the female viewpoint. Nana's character is very well-developed - one is both fascinated and repelled. The p...more
Linda Leven
Jun 11, 2012 Linda Leven rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: NO ONE
I must disagree with all the previous reviews. I found this book to be one of Zola's most tedious and tiresome. Of course. I am a Trollope lover, and maybe that is what accounts for my dissenting opinion. I will not go through the story. That has been told. I found the book crammed with scenes of large crowds -- at the dinners and salons, at the theatre, at the racetrack-- dozens of miscellaneous characters chattering away, frivolous conversations of meaningless nonsense. And most of these chara...more
Judith
I don't know if I gave this book a fair shake because it was so annoying I had to stop reading it after 50 pages or so. All the women were described as "sluts" and "whores". All the men were drooling boors. And the author's tone seemed to be one of a madly gesticulating Frenchman flippantly dismissing various sexual escapades as if to say, "ah yes, sex is so boring. but what else is there to talk about?"
Alex
For those who like time travel, not to a virtual time someone makes up, but to a real one such as Paris in the 1870’s, those who want vivid, detailed, and realistic imagery, minimal moralization, or those who want to sample “naturalist” or “scientific” literature, Nana is a perfect specimen.

Here we follow a first-rate Parisian courtesan into her home, every room, including the bathroom, to see her clients, what they do, talk about, eat, and how much money changes hands, what her room maid, cook...more
Bethan
I couldn't help but laugh. It just seems funny and crazy in a lampooning way. It's full of sex and the stupidity of people. The more it went on, the more I hoped that the vapid and well-meaning but fiscally and sexually voracious prostitute Nana of the title would screw everyone over, including herself. As she did, repeatedly. It's such a French romp. I mean, really. France produces 120 Days of Sodom, Les Liaisons Dangereuses, The Story of O.. and Nana.

"Nana shot through like a cloud of invadi
...more
Mandy
Nana is one of the best characters in literature I believe, since she has all the flaws one looks for in ourselves despite being a courtesan. The book details beautifully the Haussmannisation in Paris and the emergence of prostitution as a result in the 19th century.

It was a fantastic read for me as I had just studied this period in art history and the details were all easy for me to understand.

What makes Nana so appealing is the fact that she goes from being a no one to being famous and gets ca...more
Dolors
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.
knig
Demmit! how is it possible that Nana slappers away through the length and breadth of hierarchical French society (fishmongers to counts) and never gets pregnant, nor catches the clap? Well, she does get pregnant once, but its given us that this is a most heinous lapse on her part. How does she do it? I want to know how she did it, I do, I do.

Of course, shes a work of fiction, an uber whore, so perhaps in real life she wouldn’t have survived the syphilitic Vandeuvres so intact after all. Not tha...more
☽ Moon Rose ☯
The word Nana appears to be the French anagram of the English name Anna, which in French is a derogatory term for a woman, or a girlfriend, but in my vernacular language, it defines in a way I think, after reading the novel, what Émile Zola really attributes her whimsical protagonist, her meteoric rise and sudden fall, which somehow alluded to the degradation of the French aristocracy and the prevalent decadence infecting the French middle class, for in Filipino(Tagalog) her name simply means a...more
SJH (A Dream of Books)
One of the things I like the most about Emile Zola novels is their gritty realism. Zola is never one to shy away from depicting the poverty, degradation or despair of his central characters. In 'Nana' he depicts the rise and fall of a young woman whose life is steered by the whims of the men around her. She rises from abject poverty to glow brightly as the star of Paris but she also burns out suddenly when things around her start to crumble. I docked this novel a point because I thought that the...more
Andrew
This is Nana. Watch Nana fuck. Fuck, Nana, fuck.

That is the plot of Emile Zola's Nana. It is a 19th Century French novel, which means it's this big messy melodramatic soap opera. But it's so much fun! Nana is a man-eater to make anyone on Days of Our Lives blush, tangled up not only in prostitution, but in gambling, gluttony, promiscuity, lesbian kidnappings (?!), sadomasochism, suicide, murder, and, most importantly for Zola, economic catastrophe. Not only can she burn down the lives of those a...more
Gill
I wasn't sure whether to give this book 2 stars or 3 stars. There are some other books in the series which I didn't think particularly well written, but this book I actually actively disliked at certain points. There were several occasions where, although Zola seem to be intending or looking as if he was taking the moral high ground, in fact I feel what he was doing was attempting to titillate his readers. I really dislike these parts of it.

So I don't like the thesis of the book, And i don't lik...more
Gulen
İnternette yapılan kısa bir araştırma, Zola’nın Nana’nın da içinde bulunduğu Les Rougon-Macquart serisini 2. Cumhuriyet’i eleştirmek için yazdığını ortaya koyuyor. Her yeni kitapta toplumda aksayan bir yönü gösteren serinin en özel kitapları ise kuşkusuz Germinal, Meyhane ve Nana. Meyhane ve Nana birbirine direk bağlantılı aslında, ancak oldukça depresif olan Meyhane’yi okumaya yüreğim dayanabilir mi bilmiyorum.
Büyük bir Zola okuyucusu değilim ve gençken Zola’ya duyduğum önyargıdan dolayı kendim...more
Steve Lindahl
Nana has one of the worst beginnings of any novel I've read recently, but I ended up liking it very much.

The story starts at a theater where a new production of The Blond Venus is having its opening night. Nana has the lead. She's an actress who has received a great deal of publicity, but has not been seen be the general public. Zola uses this situation to build suspense while presenting all of the book's minor characters. It's the all I have problems with. The opening chapter bounces around fro...more
Graham
A terrific story. NANA starts off slow and slightly confusing, introducing pretty much the entire cast over the course of a couple of chapters and leaving the reader reeling and trying to keep. As the novel progresses, though, it becomes more and more involving, the pace increases and the momentum builds until the last 100 pages leave you feeling breathless. It's like a rolling stone descending a hill before dropping off a precipice, perhaps not delivering the gut punch of GERMINAL but it certai...more
Simon Mcleish
Originally published on my blog here in February 2002.

Because of its film versions (which are considerably toned down) and its controversial subject matter, Nana is Zola's best known novel. One of his series Les Rougon-Macquart, which together amounts to a study of heredity, Nana is the story of a prostitute in Paris just before the Franco-Prussian War of 1870.

The portrait painted of this part of Parisian society is neither cheerful nor romanticised (as it was, for example, in Dumas' Dame aux C...more
Marija
One of Zola’s main objectives for writing was to describe people, places and events true to nature as they exist in real life—documented in writing with a scientific precision. Zola has certainly achieved this through his characterization of Nana. Even if you take away Nana’s profession, she is a character that transcends time. You could easily find her amidst the in crowd of any high school—the kind of girl who would have dozens of followers about her; and yet no matter how many times she “inno...more
Alexandra Sullivan
I'm not sure this book is supposed to be an inspiration, but it inspired me in a way. I love the idea of a woman born of poverty taking her revenge on the aristocracy by robbing them of their money and luxurious way of life, and leaving them broken and enfeebled. There's an air of class warfare involved, and it's only right that those accustomed to an excessive way of life will find their downfall through their excess. It is mentioned several times that Nana cares nothing for money, not really....more
Jonathan
I first read this about twenty years ago and it was my first Zola novel, my first experience of Zola. As I'm reading the whole Rougon-Macquart series (I've read eighteen at the moment) I thought that I may as well read the ones that I'd read before I embarked on this reading marathon. I've enjoyed them all so much that I think it's just a way of prolonging the experience.

I must admit that I was a little concerned that it wouldn't be as good as I remembered but I had no reasons to worry; this is...more
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Émile François Zola was an influential French novelist, the most important example of the literary school of naturalism, and a major figure in the political liberalization of France.

More than half of Zola's novels were part of a set of 20 books collectively known as Les Rougon-Macquart. Unlike Balzac who in the midst of his literary career resynthesized his work into La Comédie Humaine, Zola from...more
More about Émile Zola...
Germinal (Les Rougon-Macquart, #13) Thérèse Raquin L'Assommoir (The Dram Shop) (Les Rougon-Macquart, #7) La Bête humaine (Les Rougon-Macquart, #17) The Ladies' Paradise (Les Rougon-Macquart, #11)

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“All of a sudden, in the good-natured child, the woman stood revealed, a disturbing woman with all the impulsive madness of her sex, opening the gates of the unknown world of desire. Nana was still smiling, but with the deadly smile of a man-eater.” 8 likes
“A ruined man fell from her hands like a ripe fruit, to lie rotting on the ground.” 8 likes
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