Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Seth Grahame-Smith. Quirk Classics. 2009.
Ah, February. For many, the month brings to mind snowdrifts, Valentines, and the peculiarity of a short month made a little longer every four years. But for others, February is about a different kind of romance – the marriage of classic literature and “ultraviolent zombie mayhem”. To wit, 2013 offered Warm Bodies, a film – based on a book – based on Romeo and Juliet (plus zombies). This Friday marks the release of an undead, overdue film – based on a book – that may have started it all: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. While the film itself should be a delight (for those who like proper English ladies unsheathing decapitations upon dreadful Satan-spawn), the source material is not to be missed either.
Written by Seth Grahame-Smith (who also penned Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter), this novel comes from one of my favorite publishers Quirk Books, purveyor of all things interesting, literary, and, well, quirky (see: William Shakespeare’s Star Wars, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, and Horrorstör, to name a few). Although eminently readable for its funniness and formally choreographed carnage, the genius behind PPZ is its authenticity in tone to Jane Austen’s 1813 original. The manners and style that so occupy the Bennet sisters are retained, only now the ladies must sharpen swords and their martial arts skills in addition to proper dance form and social etiquette. Also, the addition of “the dreadfuls” may clarify, for modern readers, some of the context and inferred elements of the novel, adding an undead focus.
p. 15 – “Mr. Darcy watched Elizabeth and her sisters work their way outward, beheading zombie after zombie as they went.” Illustrations by Philip Smiley.
The zombie trend, in my opinion, may have largely run its course. Walking undead, such as vampires and zombies, aren’t really my thing, at least. However, there is an undeniable appeal in the zeitgeist in imagining an endless horde of mindless consumers slowly, but surely, eroding the fabric of society. Perhaps it was the same in Regency England! If you can’t beat ’em, eat ’em…er, join ’em. For Brit. Lit. students, please consider PPZ as an option for the Unit 4 novels (or seek out sequels and spinoffs such as Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters or Android Karenina). There may also be an extra credit opportunity for using the movie as an excuse to get literary – as if you needed one!