Archive for December 31st, 2009

Updating the Classics? Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

31 December 2009

Contributed by Christina Morin

About a third of my way through Seth Grahame-Smith’s adaptation of Pride and PrejudicePride and Prejudice and Zombies – I enthusiastically posted my approval on Facebook. To my surprise, a friend and colleague replied, registering her distaste and disappointment, having just finished the book herself. So much could have been done with this, she complained, but what little was done with it was disappointing. I staunchly defended the book, a bit prematurely considering I hadn’t even gotten half way through: it’s just a bit of fun, I argued, and it really was, for a while. Up until that point, I essentially agreed with Stephanie Merritt who, in her review of the novel earlier this month in The Guardian (6 December 2009), applauded the novel’s seamless merging of old (i.e. original text) and new (i.e. zombies): ‘The success of any pastiche lies in its ability to capture the tone of that original, and in this Grahame-Smith has succeeded admirably. By inserting his zombie battles into Austen’s text in appropriate style, the structure and the bulk of the book’s contents remain hers’.

By the time I finished the novel, however, I had my doubts. Overall, I felt that Grahame-Smith achieved an admirable feat in the way he managed to merge his insertions of ‘ultraviolent zombie mayhem’ into Austen’s original text as well as its social and cultural contexts. But his reverence for the latter faltered on several notable occasions, most of them involving adolescent and puerile humour concerned with Mr. Darcy’s genitalia. If I sound a bit prudish here, you’ll have to excuse me. This is, after all, Austen we’re talking about. Read more