Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (Grahame-Smith)

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
Seth Grahame-Smith, 2009 / Jane Austen, 1813
Quirk Publishing

320 pp.
ISBN-13: 9781594743344

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains.

So begins Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, an expanded edition of the beloved Jane Austen novel featuring all-new scenes of bone-crunching zombie mayhem.

As our story opens, a mysterious plague has fallen upon the quiet English village of Meryton—and the dead are returning to life! Feisty heroine Elizabeth Bennet is determined to wipe out the zombie menace, but she's soon distracted by the arrival of the haughty and arrogant Mr. Darcy.

What ensues is a delightful comedy of manners with plenty of civilized sparring between the two young lovers—and even more violent sparring on the blood-soaked battlefield as Elizabeth wages war against hordes of flesh—eating undead. Can she vanquish the spawn of Satan? And overcome the social prejudices of the class-conscious landed gentry?

Complete with romance, heartbreak, swordfights, cannibalism, and thousands of rotting corpses, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies transforms a masterpiece of world literature into something you'd actually want to read. (From the publisher.)

See the 2016 film version with Lily James and Sam Riley.
Listen to our Movies Meet Book Club Podcast as Hollister and O'Toole discuss the movie and book.

Author Bio
Birth—December 16, 1775
Where—Steventon in Hampshire, UK
Death—July 18, 1817
Where—Winchester, Hampshire
Education—taught at home by her father

Jane Austen's delightful, carefully wrought novels of manners remain surprisingly relevant, nearly 200 years after they were first published. Her novels—Pride and Prejudice and Emma among them—are those rare books that offer us a glimpse at the mores of a specific period while addressing the complexities of love, honor, and responsibility that still intrigue us today. (From Barnes & Noble.)

Read more about Jane Austen on our Prejudice Reading Guide.


Seth Grahame-Smith is an American author and film producer, best known for his 2009 novel Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. He lives in Los Angeles, California, USA.

Grahame-Smith's first widely published book was the nonfiction The Big Book of Porn: A Penetrating Look at the World of Dirty Movies, a look at the history of the erotic art form, which was published in 2005. The next year, Grahame-Smith published The Spider-Man Handbook: The Ultimate Training Manual, an examination of Marvel Comics' Spider-man, with an introduction by Stan Lee. In 2007, Grahame-Smith wrote How to Survive a Horror Movie: All the Skills to Dodge the Kills, a tongue-in-cheek guide to help readers escape situations most often shown in horror films. The book's introduction was written by horror film director Wes Craven. The next year, Grahame-Smith wrote the satirical Pardon My President: Fold-and-Mail Apologies for 8 Years, a collection of letters penned by Grahame-Smith addressed to various parties in order to apologize for the wrongs they had suffered under the administration of George W. Bush.

Grahame-Smith received the idea for a mash-up of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice with elements of the zombie genre from his editor at Quirk Books, Jason Rekulak, who had been wanting to make a book of the type for quite some time. Grahame-Smith, enamored with the idea, began working on the novel, first by reading Pride and Prejudice and then by meticulously plotting out where to insert the zombie elements, a process he has described as similar to microsurgery. Though the publishing company was initially reluctant to publish the book in fear of alienating possible fans of the books, the book was eventually published in 2009 in hopes of selling several thousand copies and breaking even, as had been done with Grahame-Smith's previous two books. However, once the cover and title of the book began circling around the internet, the book's popularity grew, eventually to the point where it became a New York Times bestseller.

Due to the success of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Grahame-Smith has been contracted to write two follow-up books, one of which is reported to be titled Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.

He'll make his debut as a comic book writer on Marvel Zombies Return: Hulk with artist Richard Elson.

Grahame-Smith has been a producer of several films and television shows. In 2001, he was the coordinating producer on two episodes of History's Mysteries. (From Wikipedia.)

Book Reviews
This may be the most wacky by-product of the busy Jane Austen fan-fiction industry—at least among the spin-offs and pastiches that have made it into print.... Is nothing sacred? —Mary Ellen Quinn

Austen's England is overrun with "unmentionables." Etiquette and polite society still reign, but they do become strained when, for example, the ball at Netherfield is interrupted by an attack on the household staff. In this parody, Grahame-Smith maintains the structure and language of the original while strategically inserting zombies into the story. The surprise is how little changes. Elizabeth Bennett is still known for her beauty and intelligence. Here, she is also known for her expertise in the "deadly arts," abilities that only make her a less-desirable marriage partner. There is the constant physical peril that echoes the menace underlying the original. In addition to a life of homeless spinsterhood, the sisters fear having their brains eaten, or being bitten and turned into zombies themselves (a fate to which one character does unfortunately fall prey). The unmentionables also magnify the satirical aspects of the story. A few key arguments, such as the final confrontation between Elizabeth and Lady Catherine, become all-out brawls to the death. (Lady Catherine is famous for her fighting skills and army of ninjas.) And of course Darcy is a renowned swordsman, known for his gentlemanly ferocity. The concept alone is worth a chuckle. The undead are popular at the moment, and teens will be attracted to this clever version of a frequently assigned classic. However, they should be prepared for a somewhat slow read. The author has not accelerated the pace or created suspense in this mashup. —Angela Carstensen, Convent of the Sacred Heart, New York City 
Library Journal

Discussion Questions
Use our LitLovers Book Club Resources; they can help with discussions for any book:

How to Discuss a Book (helpful discussion tips)
Generic Discussion Questions—Fiction and Nonfiction
Read-Think-Talk (a guided reading chart)

Also consider these LitLovers talking points to help get a discussion started for Pride and Prejudice and Zombies:

1. First of all, you will want to read Jane's original—uh, the one without the Zombies? If you haven't read it, skip it. There's no point in going any further.

2. Okay, having read the original (see #1), what would you say is different in this "expanded" version? Be precise.

3. Which is the greater peril in this work—the social stigma and financial ruin of remaining a spinster...or having your brains eaten out? Why? Which would be the greater threat today? Why, again?

4. Discuss the way in which class difference determines one's protection against zombies? Does Lady Catherine de Bourgh have greater protection than the Bennett family? Are there parallels to today's call for health care reform? Defend your answer.

5. Why is Elizabeth considered a less-than-desirable marriage partner? How does that change when Mr. Darcy appears on the scene? Why does he find Elizabeth attractive?

6. Why does Charlotte (really) marry Mr. Collins?

7. Where do these Zombies come from? Why are they here? Do you think zombies still exist?

(Questions by LitLovers. Please feel free to use them, online or off, with attribution. Thanks.)

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