Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

I blogged about the book Pride and Prejudice and Zombies back in April, when I first heard about the book and thought it was an April Fool's joke. But no, it's a real book, and now I've read it. In fact, our school's book club discussed it yesterday.

Pride and Prejudice was never my favorite Jane Austen book. In fact, I never really liked it much at all. And I won't return to the zombie version to reread it, I confess. But the zombie version was fun--laugh out loud fun.

I was impressed with how seamlessly the author, Seth Grahame-Smith, wove the zombie plot in with the Jane Austen plot. I expected it to be more clumsy. But Grahame-Smith made those zombies seem natural. As I read, I had trouble remembering the original book (and much of the original book is still there, reportedly 85%).

I was also impressed with how the zombie theme dovetailed with Austen's original theme. Grahame-Smith stays true to Austen's analysis of class in British society. For example, the Bennet sisters train at a dojo in China, when everyone knows that the best training is done in Japan.

As I was reading, I wondered if non-English majors would get all the jokes, if they'd see the humor. I think there's a richness that might be missed if people don't understand the society that Austen is satirizing. But I don't know that one needs to be an English major to get that--our own society is fairly stratified, after all (more so, before the economic crash which threatens to transform us all into paupers).

At yesterday's book club, we had two English majors, one of whom loved the original Austen, and one who did not (me). We had a chef, who loved both the original and the zombie version. We had a sociologist who hated both.

And here's an interesting twist. I was the only native English speaker. The other English major is from India, and I can't keep track of all the languages she knows. The sociologist is German. The chef hails from Latin America. So, the ability to appreciate the book does not appear to be tied to English as a native language.

So, if you need some fluffy fun as you get ready for Halloween, this book might be just what you need. Put your snooty inner English major self aside, and get ready for a good laugh.

No comments: