Pride and Prejudice vs. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Alright, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies the movie came out last week, but if there’s a better movie to see with your loved one on Valentine’s Day, I don’t know what it is. Maybe Deadpool, but then, I am single and may not really know what I’m talking about when it comes to romance. Jane Austen sure did, though, and she was listed as the co-author for the book Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, so seeing the movie will probably be a romantic experience. I don’t know. I haven’t seen the movie yet. I, being the purist I am, will try and read, or at least glance through, the book before I’ve seen the film.

I last read Pride and Prejudice a while ago, and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies an even longer while ago. Yes, that means I read the zombie version first. I know what I like and I set my priorities accordingly. Anyhow, I was all excited to jog my memory for the movie and decided to also help people figure out if they should try a book out first, and whether that book should be the ironically-read original Pride and Prejudice or the movie’s source material, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.

There is much to say for reading the Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. It’s a classic romance, one that still has fan girls lusting after the main man centuries later. I do not think there will be any team Jacobs or team Edwards two hundred years from now, just saying. Austen creates compelling characters that stay compelling, and social commentary that stays relevant. Elizabeth and Darcy bickering together and the dramas of the Bennett family still play well with modern audiences because while Austen was technically talking about the prides and prejudices of her own time, (whoa, hold on, I just got the title, wow,) she captured something about human nature that could hold true through the ages. Mainly, it’s all about how people are self-involved idiots that would rather hold petty grudges than put down their prides and prejudices against other people than live a happy life, which is why we need friends and family to hit us upside the head sometimes. Just imagine that said much more eloquently with more corsets and petticoats, and you’ll get the basic gist of the novel itself. It’d sure be a fun contrast to read this classic before seeing its strange adaptation.

Okay, so Pride and Prejudice and Zombies has all of what I just talked about with the original, plus zombies. There’s a reason Jane Austen really is listed as the co-author of this book. The other author, Seth Grahame-Smith attempts in many ways to splice apart Jane Austen’s words and just add a dash of his own modern style. The first line of each book is probably one of the best examples of this.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.

-Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

Grahame-Smith spices the text up like so:

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

-Seth Grahame Smith, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Both of these are, indeed, universal truths worth remembering, but one is playfully recreating the other, and so it goes for the rest of the novel. I know Hollywood ruins the spirit of every book it touches. Grahame-Smiths first book adapted into a movie is a good reminder of that, but in the book the zombies are not simple gimmicks. They are an addition to the story meant to add an interesting alternative history, one with a Victorian era zombie apocalypse, and also to playfully enhance what the original novel has to say about romance in Victorian society. Lady Catherine’s condemnation of Elizabeth’s betrothal to Darcy goes from simple snobbery to a challenge to a duel with Catherine and her ninja henchmen, (yes, it’s actually Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Ninjas.) Charlotte, Elizabeth’s friend’s metaphorical death of freedom at her marriage for money to Mr. Collins is turned into a literal death in the book when it is revealed she’s been bitten and is slowly dying and turning into a zombie. As she is poisoned by society’s insistence that a wealthy marriage is her only goal in life, so her blood is poisoned by the virus of the damned and undead. It’s all a bit dark, of course. That’s how most things turn out when you add zombies. So, if you like things a bit dark and funny, but still plenty earnest and faithful where it counts, try reading Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.

Really, you can’t go wrong with either book, especially if your interested in reading them before the movie this Sunday. Happy Valentine’s Day everybody! May your true loves not be devoured by the undead this weekend, or any other weekend after that, really.


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