The Power of the Feminine Milieu in Zola's Nana

In Nana (1880), Zola develops the notion of women's environmental influence, a paradigm of feminine power whose importance reflects the elevation of nature as a female creator and the determining influence attributed to the milieu in nineteenth-century materialism. Nana's seductive odor constitutes a potent milieu and provides a model of women's environmental influence, which is also realized in the mood and expense of their decor. Nana's odor represents a "ferment" extending women's influence and transforming society. However, feminine influence also pervades the traditional patriarchal order. Zola's depiction of Nana conveys the threat that the feminine milieu poses to masculine agency. (CB)
Bordeau, Catherine
Volume 1998-1999 Fall-Winter; 27(1-2): 96-107