Nana first appeared in 1879, serialized in Le Voltaire, but Zola had outlined in 1869 his ideas for a novel about a prostitute heroine from a working-class family – a prostitute far removed from the sentimentalized ‘fallen women' of Romantic literature. So far removed, indeed, that when the novel was published in 1880, its vivid realism provoked both scandalized outcry and an excited interest that sold fifty-five thousand copies almost at once. In fact, this story of the good-time girl from the Paris slums, endowed with the irresistible power of the goddess Venus, outsold in Zola's lifetime all his novels except La Débâcle.

Zola was already well-known by the time he …

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Minogue, Valerie . "Nana". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 05 July 2008
[, accessed 04 July 2015.]