Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is a 2009 parody novel by Seth Grahame-Smith. It is a mashup combining Jane Austen's classic novel Pride and Prejudice (1813) with elements of modern zombie fiction, crediting Austen as co-author. It was first published in April 2009 by Quirk Books and in October 2009 a Deluxe Edition was released, containing full-color images and additional zombie scenes. The novel was adapted into a 2016 film starring Lily James and Sam Riley.Background
Quirk Books editor, Jason Rekulak, developed the idea for Pride and Prejudice and Zombies after comparing a list of "popular fanboy characters like ninjas, pirates, zombies, and monkeys" with a list of public domain book titles such as War and Peace, Crime and Punishment, and Wuthering Heights. He turned the project over to writer Seth Grahame-Smith.
[Rekulak] called me one day, out of the blue, very excitedly, and he said, "All I have is this title, and I can't stop thinking about this title." And he said: "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies". For whatever reason, it just struck me as the most brilliant thing I'd ever heard.
Grahame-Smith began with the original text of Austen's novel, adding zombie and ninja elements while developing an overall plot line for the new material; "you kill somebody off in Chapter 7, it has repercussions in Chapter 56". According to the author, the original text of the novel was well-suited for use as a zombie horror story:
You have this fiercely independent heroine, you have this dashing heroic gentleman, you have a militia camped out for seemingly no reason whatsoever nearby, and people are always walking here and there and taking carriage rides here and there ... It was just ripe for gore and senseless violence. From my perspective anyway.
In early 2009, awareness of the forthcoming novel rose due to attention from Internet bloggers, newspaper articles, National Public Radio, and TWiT's MacBreak Weekly podcast. In response, the publisher increased the initial print run from 12,000 to 60,000 copies, and moved the publication date to April 1.Plot
The story takes place in 19th century England where a zombie plague has spread across the country. Those affected are called the "stricken", "sorry stricken", "un-dead", "unmentionables", or "zombies".
The protagonist of the story is Miss Elizabeth Bennet, a young woman living with her parents and four sisters. Mr. Bennet drills his daughters in martial arts and weapons training, molding them into capable zombie-fighters. Meanwhile, Mrs. Bennet endeavors to obtain for them wealthy and high-status husbands. Seeing an opportunity to achieve her goal, Mrs. Bennet sends her daughters to a local ball where a wealthy bachelor, Charles Bingley, is expected to make an appearance. At the ball, Mr. Bingley and the eldest Bennet daughter, Jane, make a connection in the midst of a chaotic zombie attack. During this time, Elizabeth meets Fitzwilliam Darcy, Mr. Bingley's closest friend and a noted zombie killer.
As time passes, Mr. Bingley and Jane become more acquainted with one another. However, this companionship leaves the Bennet girls confused when Mr. Bingley and company suddenly abandon Netherfield Park. When the local militia arrives in town to exhume and destroy dead bodies, Elizabeth becomes friendly with one of the soldiers, George Wickham, who claims that Darcy cheated him of an inheritance.
Elizabeth's dislike for Darcy intensifies when she learns that he plotted to separate Bingley from her sister, Jane. Elizabeth vows to avenge the separation by killing Darcy, and she is afforded that opportunity when he appears unannounced at a cottage where she is visiting her newlywed friend Charlotte. Darcy surprises her by proposing marriage, and they break into a verbal and physical fight in which Darcy is wounded. He escapes and writes a long letter to Elizabeth explaining his actions: that he separated Jane and Bingley out of fear that Jane had contracted the "mysterious plague". In regards to the allegedly wronged soldier Wickham, Darcy explains that Wickham attempted to elope with Darcy's younger sister to take her considerable fortune – the "inheritance" that Wickham had claimed. Elizabeth realizes that she had judged Darcy too harshly and is humbled. Darcy realizes that his demeanor encourages people to believe the rumors about him and resolves to act more appropriately.
Elizabeth embarks on a trip around the country with her aunt and uncle, fighting zombies along the way. At Pemberley she encounters Darcy, who repels a horde of zombies. Darcy's changed attitude and manners impress Elizabeth and lead her to consider reconciling their relationship. However, that deliberation is crushed when her younger sister Lydia elopes with Wickham in London. The Bennet family fears the worst when they receive word that Wickham and Lydia have married, following an "accident" that has left Wickham as a quadriplegic. After visiting the Bennets, the couple moves to Ireland. Elizabeth eventually discovers that it was Darcy who engineered the union, thus saving the Bennet family from ruin.
Darcy and Bingley return to the countryside, and Bingley resumes courting Jane. Elizabeth hopes to renew her relationship with Darcy, but his aunt, the Lady Catherine, interferes and insists that her daughter Anne is a better match for her nephew. Lady Catherine challenges Elizabeth to a duel, committed to eliminating the competition, but Elizabeth defeats her. Elizabeth spares Catherine's life. Darcy is touched by this gesture and returns to Elizabeth. They then marry and begin a long and happy future together, insofar as the ever-present threat of zombie apocalypse permits.Reception
Entertainment Weekly reviewed Pride and Prejudice and Zombies favorably, giving it a grade of A−. Library Journal recommended the novel "...for all popular fiction collections". The A.V. Club gave the novel a grade of A, commenting that "(w)hat begins as a gimmick ends with renewed appreciation of the indomitable appeal of Austen's language, characters, and situations..." The New Yorker's Macy Halford, however, called the book's estimated blend of eighty-five percent Austen's words and fifteen percent Grahame-Smith's "one hundred per cent terrible"; while she admitted that the mashup may have accurately identified a subtextual theme of "mystery and menace" in the original novel, she still found Grahame-Smith's writing to be awful, singling out a passage in which Elizabeth Bennett prepares to kill Mr. Darcy over an overheard slight.
As of April 19, 2009, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies was number three on the New York Times bestseller list. On the same morning, the book moved from the 300s to 27th place on amazon.co.uk's bestseller list. Before the book was published in the United Kingdom, the book required a second printing.Cultural influence
The success of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies has led to several other mash-ups pairing classical works or historical figures with modern horror themes such as, Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.
A clothing collection inspired by the Regency-era fashion and "inner zombie slayer" style of the book is being released by Hot Topic.Adaptations
In May 2010, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Graphic Novel was published by Del Rey / Random House, with acclaimed comic writer Tony Lee adapting the text and art by Cliff Richards.
In October 2011, an interactive ebook version produced by PadWorx Digital Media Inc. was released.
In June 2010, an app based on Pride and Prejudice and Zombies was released for the iPod Touch and iPhone. Digital development specialist Freeverse is behind the app, and describes the title as "a rollicking action title with the perfect blend of zombie slaying action and touching romance narrative".
A film adaptation has been in conversation since February 2009, when the British press (The Sunday Times) reported that Hollywood was bidding to turn Pride and Prejudice and Zombies into a blockbuster film. At a book-signing held at California State University Fullerton on April 23, 2009, Grahame-Smith said the novel had officially been purchased by an undisclosed major film company to be produced as a feature film.
Lionsgate originally planned to finance and distribute the film, with Natalie Portman playing the lead role, but she later reconsidered and decided to serve as a producer instead. In addition, David O. Russell would have directed; however, he left production due to scheduling conflicts. Mike White was hired to direct the adaptation, but he also left the project in January 2011 due to scheduling conflicts. Craig Gillespie finalized a contract to direct the film on April 18, 2011, but left the project in October.
On May 2, 2013, Lily James confirmed that the film was still in the works and announced that she would star in the film as a leading role. The project was also set to feature extensive involvement from Burr Steers. On August 4, 2014, it was announced that filming would begin in September, with Lily James as Elizabeth, Sam Riley as Mr. Darcy, and Bella Heathcote as one of Elizabeth's sisters. Jack Huston joined the cast as Mr. Wickham. Douglas Booth joined the cast as Mr. Bingley. Matt Smith joined the cast as Mr. Collins, with shooting scheduled to begin on September 24. On September 23, 2014, it was announced that Game of Thrones' Charles Dance and Lena Headey had joined the cast, and that Screen Gems purchased the rights to release it in the United States.
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies was released on February 5, 2016 to mixed critical reviews and commercial failure, grossing $16.4 million worldwide from a $28 million budget.Prequel
On October 30, 2009, Quirk Books announced that the third book in its Quirk Classics series would be a prequel, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls. The prequel was published on March 30, 2010, and explored how Elizabeth Bennet became such a seasoned zombie hunter and dealt with her early martial arts training and her unfortunate early romantic experiences before the events of the first novel. Seth Grahame-Smith did not write the prequel because he was engaged in writing Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter; instead, Steve Hockensmith authored the work.Sequel
Steve Hockensmith wrote a sequel in the series titled Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dreadfully Ever After, which was released on March 22, 2011.See also
- Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters
- List of literary adaptations of Pride and Prejudice
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