Diversions: The Structure of Marginality in Nana

Discourse on the marginal such as one finds in Nana tends to be structured by a logic whereby the figure is marked by absence, characterized by signs emptied of their normal meaning. The prostitute produces this collapse in signification by diverting the sign from its appropriate context. Such diversions can be traced in the monetary, social, and biological economies in Nana. In Zola's novel the structure of marginality is reflected in the metaphor of performance, particularly of the theater. Examining Zola's use of theater with Austin's discussion of language, and then with Derrida's critique of Austin, underscores the complexity of the configuration of monde and demi-monde in Nana and points to a problematization of the entire discourse on marginality. (JJD,Jr.)
Duffy, John J. Jr
Volume 1999 Spring-Summer; 27(3-4): 366-383