1946 1st edition, 1st printing; illustrated by Alexander Dobkin; The World Publishing Company, Cleveland, Ohio; hardbound in red boards with light grey drawing and gilt lettering on cover and spine; some fading on spine - see pic; inside quite good condition with unmarked pages; some black and white adult illustrations.
Nana tells the story of Nana Coupeau's rise from streetwalker to high-class prostitute during the last three years of the French Second Empire. Nana first appeared near the end of Zola's earlier novel Rougon-Macquart series, L'Assommoir (1877), where she is the daughter of an abusive drunk. At the conclusion of that novel, she is living in the streets and just beginning a life of prostitution.
Nana opens with a night at the Théâtre des Variétés in April 1867 just after the Exposition Universelle has opened. Nana is eighteen years old, though she would have been fifteen according to the family tree of the Rougon-Macquarts Zola had published years before starting work on this novel. Zola describes in detail the performance of La blonde Vénus, a fictional operetta modeled after Offenbach's La belle Hélène, in which Nana is cast as the lead. All of Paris is talking about her, though this is her first stage appearance. When asked to say something about her talents, Bordenave, the manager of the theatre, explains that a star does not need to know how to sing or act: "Nana has something else...