Read Nana by Émile Zola Free Online
Book Title: Nana|
The author of the book: Émile Zola
Date of issue: July 26th 1973
ISBN 13: 9780140442632
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 321 KB
Edition: Penguin Classics
Read full description of the books Nana:"Everything in the world is about sex except sex. Sex is about power." (Oscar Wilde)
Had Nana been a child of today, forced to grow up in the social circumstances of her parents' poverty, violence and alcoholism in the depressing Parisian Goutte d'Or, she would have been moved to a foster family, and sent to family therapy with her brothers.
But Nana was born in 1851, according to the plot of L'Assommoir (The Dram Shop) which covers her mother's story. And she learned how to play the underworld game early, left to fend for herself, and with a strong will to succeed and exert power.
Blame her if you dare for the life she chose. Blame her if you dare for the lovers she humiliated. Blame her if you dare for the money she wanted and the pain she caused. If she grew up today, she would be a victim from the beginning, entitled to support and pity. In 19th century Paris, she had nothing but what she managed to grab for herself. Cold and manipulative? Yes! But how could she be otherwise, growing up as a child in the abusive home of Gervaise and Coupeau? She had no education to speak of, no social standing, no caring and loving childhood memories, no role models except for the hypocritical Paris society she saw - which was ruled by the sexual desires of men. She never had a chance to enter the official world, and had to provide for herself.
Having said that, Nana is a monstrously self-centred, needy character, and she leaves a trail of broken characters in her professional development as a prostitute. She is daring, energetic, intelligent (but without finesse), superficial and vicious. Nana is the perfect incarnation of the corrupt whore, a child of poverty with conservative taste and values, acquired by copying the men who fall for her sexual power. Living apart from so-called respectable society, she nevertheless cultivates aristocratic opinions and traditional artistic and literary taste. She would not have approved of the realistic descriptions in Zola's novels, leaving no space for romantic dreaming and escapism. Opportunistic and egotistical at heart, her only true desire is control. A modern psychologist would probably see that as a result of her insecure childhood. Nana herself has no need for explanations. She lives for herself. Period.
I read Zola's novel when I spent a summer working in Paris, just at the time when I had left childhood behind but was still too young to understand the limitations of my knowledge and experience. Smiling condescendingly at teenagers, I was barely twenty-two myself, and Nana shook my world. After I had finished the novel, Paris looked, smelled and tasted differently. Layers and layers of hidden life, of secret suffering and vice, seemed to appear overnight. I was in Paris because I loved art and literature, and wanted to make that my profession at some point. Reading Nana made me see the other side of the beautiful medal of artistic achievement: my idealism gave way to a deep crush on the marginalised characters lurking in the side lanes of the big official literary avenues. I still think of Nana each time I visit Paris, just like I think of Oliver Twist whenever I am in London.
That was also the summer that I discovered Manet for the first time, and I remember a trip to Hamburger Kunsthalle afterwards with the sole aim to see his interpretation of Nana, the confident queen of prostitutes, painted three years before Zola published his novel:
My inner picture of Nana remains exactly like that, even though I also vividly remember her brutal, ugly end almost two decades after closing the novel with a sigh of relief and fascination. She dies like most literary sinners: a presumably well-deserved moral vengeance on her physical appearance and appetites. And Zola, the master of realism, lets the appalled reader see each step in the process when Nana's face is slowly destroyed by pockmarks, visualised in extreme contrast to the still beautiful frame of her lovely hair: "La Vénus se décomposait."
The decomposing Venus is a pretty accurate summary of the novel as a whole, puncturing the romantic notion of a sweet and tender prostitute out of sheer necessity. The decomposing hypocritical society goes along with it, illustrating the random roles people play, depending on their social and marital status. What remains?
The brutal reality of a life lived in a balance between sex and power, fear and domination.
A powerfully brutal tale!
Read information about the authorÉmile 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 the start at the age of 28 had thought of the complete layout of the series. Set in France's Second Empire, the series traces the "environmental" influences of violence, alcohol and prostitution which became more prevalent during the second wave of the Industrial Revolution. The series examines two branches of a family: the respectable (that is, legitimate) Rougons and the disreputable (illegitimate) Macquarts for five generations.
As he described his plans for the series, "I want to portray, at the outset of a century of liberty and truth, a family that cannot restrain itself in its rush to possess all the good things that progress is making available and is derailed by its own momentum, the fatal convulsions that accompany the birth of a new world."
Although Zola and Cézanne were friends from childhood, they broke in later life over Zola's fictionalized depiction of Cézanne and the Bohemian life of painters in his novel L'Œuvre (The Masterpiece, 1886).
From 1877 with the publication of l'Assommoir, Émile Zola became wealthy, he was better paid than Victor Hugo, for example. He became a figurehead among the literary bourgeoisie and organized cultural dinners with Guy de Maupassant, Joris-Karl Huysmans and other writers at his luxurious villa in Medan near Paris after 1880. Germinal in 1885, then the three 'cities', Lourdes in 1894, Rome in 1896 and Paris in 1897, established Zola as a successful author.
The self-proclaimed leader of French naturalism, Zola's works inspired operas such as those of Gustave Charpentier, notably Louise in the 1890s. His works, inspired by the concepts of heredity (Claude Bernard), social manichaeism and idealistic socialism, resonate with those of Nadar, Manet and subsequently Flaubert.
Add a comment to Nana
Read EBOOK Nana by Émile Zola Online free