Nana opens in 1867, the year of the Paris Worlds Fair, when France, thronged by a cosmopolitan elite, was a perfect target for Zola's scathing denunciation of hypocrisy and moral corruption.
Zola tells the story of French realism's most beguiling siren, Nana Coupeau's and her rise from streetwalker to high-class cocotte, set amid the decadence and moral decay of France's Gilded Age.
Men of all shapes, sizes, ages, and stations become besotted with her, all of them at great cost, whether to their money, marriages, dignity, or their lives.
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 fiery controversy that made it an overnight bestseller, and it has long since reigned as a classic of French literature.
EMILE ZOLA (1840 –1902) was a French writer, a major figure of the literary school of naturalism and an important contributor to the development of the modern novel. Zola was nominated for both the first and second Nobel Prize in Literature in 1901 and 1902.