Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (copy)

Is Jane Austen revolving in her wooden coffin or spinning in the family crypt? Perhaps she is waiting casually for the next rain so as to emerge from nearly 200 years dead as a zombie?!? This is exactly what is happening to others in a new book by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith titled Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.

With Austen’s work in the public domain, almost anything is possible, but I like Grahame-Smith’s ability to alter the story and make it ridiculously fun. I see this as a great opportunity to bring campy and classic together for an enthusiastic classroom experience.

Word-for-word text, chapters, and storyline order does not change unless to add zombies. For example, in the open sentence of Austen’s work it states, “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.” In Grahame-Smith’s version one reads, “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains.”

The characters and ethics remain exactly as written in the classic with slight zombie precautions. For example, Mrs. Bennett is consumed with teaching her five daughters the matrimonial arts in both renditions. Readers will find Mr. Bennett less laissez faire towards his daughters and more guiding in their studies of the martial arts. Furthermore, the Bennett sisters all carry small daggers hidden beneath dresses, but refuse to be seen with muskets. The large gun provides onlookers a very unladylike silhouette.

It is a fact during Austen’s lifetime the word zombie did not exist. Grahame-Smith prefers to use words such as undead, unmentionables and plague stricken instead; although, the word zombie is peppered throughout. I imagine a classroom might enjoy doing the same vocabulary exercise.

I do realize I am treading on sacred ground by suggesting this book. By all means, if this sounds hideous, do not read further. I found the reading hilarious. I admit that I thought Elizabeth was destined to become one of the undead by the book’s cover art, but I will be bold and tell you, do not fear. It is her friend Charlotte who withers into plague-dom.

If you do like this format – be advised – the movie rights are sold and another book by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith is out titled Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters.