'Jane Austen' meets zombies in monster mash-up

'Jane Austen' meets zombies in monster mash-up


That’s the conclusion reached by publishers since the success of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, an unlikely literary sensation created by adding dollops of “ultraviolent zombie mayhem” to Austen’s classic love story.

Zombies — billed as 85 per cent Austen’s original text and 15 per cent brand-new blood and guts — has become a best-seller since it was published earlier this year, with 750,000 copies in print. There’s a movie in the works. And it has spawned a monster — or, more accurately, a slew of literary monster mash-ups.

Next month, Zombies publisher Quirk Books is releasing Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, which adds giant lobsters and rampaging octopi to Austen’s love story. Out this week from another publisher is Mr Darcy, Vampyre, a supernatural sequel which portrays the aloof hero of Pride and Prejudice as an undead bloodsucker. Later this year comes Jane Bites Back, in which the author herself develops a taste for blood.
Even Austen purists admit a grudging admiration for the Zombies concept. “In publishing terms, it’s brilliant,” said Claire Harman, a Columbia University professor and author of Jane's Fame: How Jane Austen Conquered the World.

Quirk Books editorial director Jason Rekulak said he was inspired by the Internet-unleashed wave of “creative copyright infringement” — musical and video mash-ups. He made a list of classic books whose copyrights have lapsed and were ripe for pillage, from Moby Dick to Great Expectations.

“Then I made a list of things that might enhance these novels — robots, ninjas, zombies,” Rekulak said. “As soon as I drew a line between Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, I knew I had a great title.”

The irresistible title is key to the success of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. The book itself keeps most of Austen's story — girl meets boy, girl hates boy, girl is won over by boy’s good looks and large fortune—with added chunks of zombie violence by US writer Seth Grahame-Smith.

Zombies and its successors are the latest mutant offshoots of the unstoppable Austen industry.

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