Emile Zola’s NANA

NANA by Emile Zola is an interesting take on sex-obsessed Paris of the nineteenth century, the Paris that has now become a stereotype for sexual behavior in our own times. The heroine, Nana, is both available and unavailable. She gains notoriety when she bares all and appears on the stage in the nude as Venus. She is not shy at sharing her bed with several men. Yet when these men try to claim her, to possess her as their own, she turns away, preferring to be by herself.

This is a wonderful novel until the end. It is all a question of taste. The ending, when Nana meets her end, was both distasteful and over-the-top. The Author’s Message and moralizing tone were too much. A pity, as it spoiled an otherwise great novel. Three stars.