“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
I’m sure that if you are a hardcore Pride and Prejudice fan, this sentence made you shudder in horror. Or disgust. And not because of the brains. I was once one of you. There was a time in my life that I was a bit of a classics snob, which is hilarious when you recall that I’ve been reading Pride and Prejudice fanfiction since I was sixteen.
When I saw the book Pride and Prejudice and Zombies in the bookstore I will admit to being a bit horrified. Zombies had never been (and still aren’t) my thing, and the thought of someone taking my most beloved classic text and dropping it into the zombie apocalypse!?!?
And then I read it.
And it was hilarious.
Seth Grahame-Smith had taken the text and artfully altered it to bring us a ridiculous zombie tale that retains the foundations of an historically classic tale. Any changes to the basic plot had clearly explained reasons, and any changes to character background exacerbated the hilarity of the new story. The poor Misses Bennet are not wealthy enough to have studied the Ninja arts. Instead, they had to settle for lesser training in the deadly arts. And, of course, the harrowing times have made for a much blunter form of conversation and limited chances to travel to The Lakes. Or even Derbyshire.
It was not my first parody experience, but it was definitely the first one I had read that was based on something so close to my heart. And I was changed for life.
There are only three steps that you really need to take to get over your aversion to something usually made all in good fun:
Start out by being open to the idea that such things exist, and be willing to give them a chance. Read a page or two, maybe even try a whole chapter. See if you get a laugh out of it. Try not to let your lip curl too much.
Accept the fact that people will write things and you don’t have a say.
There are far worse things that could have been written. There are likely far worse things that have been written. I think most of The Harvard Lampoon’s long-form parodies are too over-the-top to handle, but people like them, so good for them. You can decide not to read published parodies of your favorites, but don’t moan and groan because they exist. Instead, wonder what the author intended to get out of creating such a thing, and see if you can appreciate the ridiculousness of it all.
Usually, parodies like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies will have been written by someone who loves the source material and wants to do something fun or outrageous with the text. If you’re already in the space where you’ve opened yourself to the idea, you can just give yourself over freely to the concept. Once you’ve done that, be ready and willing to laugh, or even giggle uncontrollably like I sometimes found myself doing.
Parodies are awesome. It took me a while to get it and enjoy myself instead of being horrified, but once I opened my arms to the idea, my eyes were opened to a whole new branch of reading. Seeing the film version of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies restored my love of parodies of classic novels, and this one in particular. Seeing some of my favorite characters placed in the outright ridiculous situations that I experienced in print almost seven years ago just brought all of the hilarity right back to the forefront.
Are you willing to dive in?