Rewrite corrupts classic literature

Brianne Ries

Never in my lifetime could I have prepared myself for seeing “Mr. Darcy,” “Elizabeth Bennet” and “Zombie attacks” in the same sentence. So you can imagine my surprise when I stumbled across the headline “Mr. Darcy Woos Elizabeth Bennet While Zombies Attack,” in the OP-ED section of The New York Times.
At first, I thought it was a joke—a silly attempt to poke fun at the direction literature of our generation is taking. Unfortunately, as I continued reading, it became blatantly clear that someone had actually revamped Jane Austen’s classic piece of literature to include zombie attacks.
I clung to the hope that maybe, just maybe, this book was hovering below the radar, that common sense would prevailed and that people would scoff at the idea for the book. As it turns out, the book is on Amazon.com’s Top 10 Best-Seller List.
A more detailed description of “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” was covered in the Arts section of the Times with a terrifying photo of Ms. Bennet missing part of her face. I’m sorry, but this is not the way I want to remember one of the most classic characters in literature. Nor do I want to imagine her and Mr. Darcy slaying zombies together. It’s ridiculous.
The author of the book, Seth Grahame-Smith, is currently penning two additional books, the next titled “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.” Grahame-Smith rests comfortably at the No. 3 spot of the Times’ best-selling paperback list for this book.
Mr. Grahame-Smith: I give you kudos for trying to spice up the shelves of our local bookstores, but why did you have to set zombies loose on the beloved characters of Jane Austen’s classic?
Twenty years from now I don’t want to have a discussion with my child about “Pride and Prejudice” only to discover he or she believes the zombie edition to be the original classic.
When you take the opening line of Austen’s novel, “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife,” and change it to read “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains,” it is obviously a satirical perspective. Obvious or not, it defames the original.
I know that a lot of people have probably never read “Pride and Prejudice,” but I am fairly certain that a good chunk of people would read this new rendition, which scares me more than zombies do. While the original is slightly difficult to leaf through because of the archaic language, the storyline is endearing and wonderful, a perfect read for those who adore love stories.
If someone could please tell me what the heck zombies have to do with love, that’d be fantastic. Better yet, could you explain to me how someone gets the idea in their head to mix “Shaun of the Dead” and “Pride and Prejudice”?
I am a firm believer in the idea that some things are better left alone. Take film remakes for instance. Ninety-five percent of the time remakes of classic Hollywood films are awful. They discredit the work of the original filmmakers and leave ignorant audiences devoid of the true spirit of the film. Encountering this same dilemma with literature was not something I ever expected, but is clearly something we all need to be aware of.

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