Thus begins Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, a book overwritten by Seth Grahame-Smith. I use the term “overwritten” in a literal sense, as in Smith has written on top of and into the Jane Austen novel. Austen, after all, is given lead credit.
How close is it, you ask?
Here’s Austen’s first paragraph:
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.
Now, I have not read the original (I stole the first paragraph from Project Gutenberg), so it took me a while to get into the story.
I expected satire or parody, and, not having read the original, spent the first part of the book thinking I was missing something. But, indeed, I did not.
Mid-way through the book I got it: this is a story about two people falling in love amid class struggle and the backdrop of an England overrun by zombies. It’s the same description as the original, except, of course, for the zombies.
By the end of the book — and this is not an exaggeration — I actually was nervous to see whether Mr. Darcy or Elizabeth would get together. I had to stop reading and find a corner to read in private.
Just like, I assume, I would with the original.
This begs a few questions:
- If the main plot is the same, can I just go ahead and say I read Pride and Prejudice?
- If the themes are relatively the same and the tone is the same and the class struggles are the same, can this book be substituted for the original?
- If it can’t be substituted, can it at least be taught in a literature class?
I’m wondering if, given the topic, this type of mashup literature, could spark an interest in reading among an audience that would normally NOT be interested in reading. I would like to think so.
What do you think?
Either way, it’s pretty much brilliant.