Sunday, May 17, 2009

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith

First off, I must thank Amanda for loaning me this book. Amanda and Becky have posted their reviews so I shan't repeat them. Did I like book? Yes, despite there being zombies roaming around Regency English, the gore wasn't too much nor did it detract from the story. Perhaps I'm one of the few who haven't read or seen Pride and Prejudice before picking this up, but I don't think it lessened my reading experience.

I will answer the questions in the back of the book because I think they're interesting and it will shed light on what I thought of the book. (Note: I did have to correct the misspelling of the Bennet's name in the question as for some reason it was spelled Bennett.)

1. Many critics have addressed the dual nature of Elizabeth's personality. On one hand, she can be a savage, remorseless killer, as we see in her vanquishing of Lady Catherine's ninjas. On the other hand, she can be tender and merciful, as in her relationships with Jane, Charlotte, and the young bucks that roam her family's estate. In your opinion, which of these "halves" best represents the real Elizabeth at the beginning -- and end of the novel?

I think the tender and merciful half, she's only savage against zombies and ninjas. Of course, zombie are evil so they must be hacked and burned without question. Also, the ninjas attacked Elizabeth first and she was only defending herself. She did spare Lady Catherine's life and the zombie with the baby zombie so I think that says a lot about her character.

2. Is Mr. Collins merely too fat and stupid to notice his wife's gradual transformation into a zombie, or could there be another explanation for his failure to acknowledge the problem? If so, what might that explanation be? How might his occupation (as a pastor) relate to his denial of the obvious, or his decision to hang himself?

Yes, Mr. Collins is too fat and stupid to realize his wife is a zombie. How could he not notice, especially in intimate surroundings. The only other explanation is when Lady Catherine was dosing Charlotte she dosed the rest of the household into oblivion. I would think his beloved's demise at his own hand would warrant his hanging himself. However, if this answer isn't sufficient, he realized how dumb he is and put in his application for the Darwin Awards (perhaps this was before they became so precise in judging form and execution). In relation to his occupation as pastor, he should've hung himself in shame for not knowing his wife might one day serve Satan. (Note: Only because this is fiction am I so flippant about this murder/suicide pact).

3. The strange plague has been the scourge for England for "five-and-fifty years." Why do the English stay and fight, rather than retreat to the safety of eastern Europe or Africa?

One might attribute their desire to stay as such a pithy reason as patriotism, but it was actually less than an emotion as that. At this point, they had no other land options available to them. The zombie scourge had left their military thinned and weak, why else would they seek salvation in the hands of women? Whereas, the Chinese and Japanese were willing to train selected soldiers, the reader should be careful to note, they were not invited to stay. America had already won her independence, the British will have a person think it was because they wanted to retain their hold on India, but the smarter ones know better. Whereas, the British were trying to secure Africa, they were having a bloody time of it and with all the trouble in other British occupations and the scourge threatening His Majesty, the English didn't have the strength to occupy another country. On a side note, I find it interesting that the Bennets all have the Japanese Katanas when they were trained in China, though it might have been an oversight by the authors.

4. Who receives the sorrier fate: Wickham, left paralyzed in a seminary for the lame, forever soiling himself and studying ankle-high books of scripture? Or Lydia, removed from her family, married to an invalid, and childless, yet forever changing filthy diapers?

I would say Lydia has received the sorrier fate, although she seems to be oblivious to it and is so infatuated with the idea of being married she thinks of nothing else. Wickham deserved what he got and has no one to blame but himself. This is the notion of karma. To think, if Wickham had sown an ounce of kindness to Mr. Darcy or his servants, he might not be lame and soiling himself, just studying scripture; well, perhaps lame, but still able to walk.

5. Due to her fierce independence, devotion to exercise, and penchant for boots, some critics have called Elizabeth Bennet "the first literary lesbian." Do you think the authors intended her to be gay? And if so, how would this Sapphic twist serve to explain her relationships with Darcy, Jane, Charlotte, Lady Catherine, and Wickham?

The authors didn't intend for Elizabeth to be gay; if they did, this question would mention her Katana sword as a phallic symbol. Because this question fails to mention this notion, I conclude Elizabeth is not gay. She might have started the feminist movement in her neck of the woods; she likes to stay fit after all those afternoon teas, plus she needs to stay awake during those said boring afternoon teas; and she likes boots because they are comfortable, keep their traction amid zombie overflow and they are easy to clean after said zombie overflow. Because I have concluded Elizabeth is not gay, I do not have to delve into her relationships with others.

6. Some critics have suggested that the zombies represent the authors' views toward marriage -- an endless curse that sucks the life out of you and just won't die. Do you agree, or do you have another opinion about the symbolism of the unmentionables?

Zombies do not represent marriage as a curse. Just because a wife works hard all day cleaning the house, cooking the meals, raising the children, doing the laundry, dusting, vacuuming, doing the dishes, trimming the yard, all while the husband sits there drinking his coffee and asking his wife what she does all day… Oops, uh, er -- Pass!

7. Does Mrs. Bennet have a single redeeming quality?

She did give birth to Jane and Elizabeth.

8. Vomit plays an important role in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Mrs. Bennet frequently vomits when she's nervous, coachmen vomit in disgust when they witness zombies feasting on corpses, even the steady Elizabeth can't help but vomit at the sight of Charlotte lapping up her own bloody pus. Do the authors mean for the regurgitation to symbolize something greater, or is it a cheap device to get laughs?

To say vomiting is a cheap device to get laughs is equivalent to potty humor. It is done to get laughs, but I don't buy it nor did I laugh at it. Cheap thrill, but not worth the ink it takes to print out the joke.

9. Is Lady Catherine's objection to Elizabeth (as a bride for her nephew) merely a matter of Elizabeth's inferior wealth and rank? Or could there be another explanation? Could she be intimidated by Elizabeth's fighting skills? Is she herself secretly in love with Darcy? Or is she bitter about the shortcomings of her own daughter?

It takes some reading in between the lines, but Lady Catherine's objection has nothing to do with Elizabeth's inferior birth and wealth. Naturally, she is jealous of Elizabeth's fighting skills, however, once Elizabeth marries, she'll put away her Katana, so there's no threat there. Plus, with Mr. Darcy's and Elizabeth's fighting skills and devotion to the sport, one would assume they would produce fine little warriors. Does Lady Catherine love Mr. Darcy? I don't think so. Aside from the fact that he's so much younger than her and it would be incestuous, I imagine she wants her lovers to be more dependent on her. Mr. Darcy is quite independent and speaks against her when necessary. She's bitter about her daughter's shortcomings, but that has nothing to do with Elizabeth. Perhaps if Lady Catherine had spent more time with her daughter and making sure she had healthy food and exercise, the daughter would turn out better. No, the main reason is, Lady Catherine is afraid Elizabeth will turn Mr. Darcy against her, thus shutting away her nephew from her forever and that she can't abide.

10. Some scholars believe that the zombies were a last-minute addition to the novel, requested by the publisher in a shameless attempt to boost sales. Others argue that the hordes of living dead are integral to Jane Austen's plot and social commentary. What do you think? Can you imagine what this novel might be like without the violent zombie mayhem?

Considering how zombies were roaming around at the time, I think it only natural that they were included. I don't think the zombies were integral to the plot, however social commentary might be different. They are often referred to as the unmentionables, the sorry stricken, or the unfortunate. It might have been a social commentary on social mores, the friends and families of the time, or the constraints women had to go through. Feel free to chose one. What would the book be without the zombies? I don't know, but I heard there's a version out there and one day I might try it. I wonder if Dickens had included zombies in Oliver Twist how that would've changed it or if the zombies migrated south and wound up with the Three Musketeers. I guess I'll never know.

Some points of interest, I think. Keira Knightley played Elizabeth Bennet in the 2005 film version of Pride and Prejudice, and played Elizabeth Swann/Turner in the Pirates trilogy, who was every much a fighter as the Elizabeth Bennet in this book. Colin Firth played Mark Darcy in the Bridget Jones's Diary movies and also played Mr. Darcy in the 1995 TV version of Pride and Prejudice.


Amanda said...

You crack me up!! I'm particularly fond of your answer for #5. Katana sword, nice.

I can do a perfect Mrs. Bennet impression from the BBC Colin Firth version. We discovered that in my house recently. I think it helps that my grandmother was from Britain, so I grew up hearing the accent. Not that my grandmother speaks anything like Mrs. Bennet...

L said...

I've got to read this stinking - literally, doesn't zombie rotting flesh stink? - book.

Christina said...

Amanda, I wondered why the Katana sword was discussed when it could have been so obvious.

Lula, I do think they mention the stench of the unmentionables in the book.

Julie said...

Answering the questions at the back of the book did make your review interesting like you had hoped. Great concept!