Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Chapter I
IT IS A TRUTH universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains. Never was this truth more plain than during the recent attacks at Netherfield Park, in which a household of eighteen was slaughtered and consumed by a horde of the living dead.
“My dear Mr. Bennet,” said his lady to him one day, “have you heard that Netherfield Park is occupied again?”
Mr. Bennet replied that he had not and went about his morning business of dagger sharpening and musket polishing—for attacks by the unmentionables had grown alarmingly frequent in recent weeks.
“But it is,” returned she.
Mr. Bennet made no answer.
“Do you not want to know who has taken it?” cried his wife impatiently.
“Woman, I am attending to my musket. Prattle on if you must, but leave me to the defense of my estate!”
This was invitation enough.
“Why, my dear, Mrs. Long says that Netherfield is taken by a young man of large fortune; that he escaped London in a chaise and four just as the strange plague broke through the Manchester line.”
“What is his name?”
“Bingley. A single man of four or five thousand a year. What a fine thing for our girls!”
“How so? Can he train them in the ways of swordsmanship and musketry?”
“How can you be so tiresome! You must know that I am thinking of his marrying one of them.”
“Marriage? In times such as these? Surely this Bingley has no such designs.”
“Designs! Nonsense , how can you talk so! It is very likely that he may fall in love with one of them, and therefore you must visit him as soon as he comes.”
“I see no occasion for that. And besides, we mustn’t busy the roads more than is absolutely necessary, lest we lose more horses and carriages to the unfortunate scourge that has so troubled our beloved Hertfordshire of late.”
“But consider your daughters!”
“I am considering them, silly woman! I would much prefer their minds be engaged in the deadly arts than clouded with dreams of marriage and fortune, as your own so clearly is! Go and see this Bingley if you must, though I warn you that none of our girls has much to recommend them; they are all silly and ignorant like their mother , the exception being Lizzy, who has something more of the killer instinct than her sisters.”
“Mr. Bennet, how can you abuse your own children in such a way? You take delight in vexing me. You have no compassion for my poor nerves.”
“You mistake me, my dear . I have a high respect for your nerves. They are my old friends. I have heard of little else these last twenty years at least.”
Mr. Bennet was so odd a mixture of quick parts, sarcastic humour, reserve, and self-discipline, that the experience of three-and-twenty years had been insufficient to make his wife understand his character. Her mind was less difficult to develop. She was a woman of mean understanding, little information, and uncertain temper. When she was discontented, she fancied herself nervous. And when she was nervous— as she was nearly all the time since the first outbreak of the strange plague in her youth— she sought solace in the comfort of the traditions which now seemed mere trifles to others. The business of Mr. Bennett’s life was to keep his daughters alive. The business of Mrs. Bennett’s was to get them married.
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith (Optional. Jane Austen may or may not be your particular brand of literature. This hybrid could arguably have been done far better. We’re using the work as an example of form, but don’t feel like you need to read the entire book unless this first chapter speaks to you. Despite Grahame-Smith’s questionable syntax, diction and cadence choices, this first chapter, regardless, is an excellent example of how one might interject hybrid zombies into a classic work.)
Seth Grahame-Smith chose a classic public domain work to reform into zombie narrative. Now you are going to choose a scene from a public domain work, a favorite one of your own, and write a 1000 word or less zombie hybrid.
Using Project Gutenberg, find a beloved and classic favorite. If you want a few ideas, how about a section of “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Perkins-Gilman or a section of “The Great Frost” from Virginia Woolf’s Orlando? Franz Kafka, Edgar Allan Poe, Henry James, Kate Chopin’s “The Story of an Hour.”
Where Seth Grahame-Smith retained the original framework of Pride and Prejudice, allow yourself to follow this model or depart from the original framework of your chosen classic. Perhaps you set it in present day? Perhaps the original conflict reflects something more current? Whether you stay close to the original framework of the scene or depart, remember you have a lifetime to continue playing with the scene and making it the best it can be.
What intrigues you most about your chosen classic scene? How does it speak “zombie” to you in aesthetic?
Guidelines, Submissions & Formatting
- Due Date: Sunday, 6 pm.
- Submission Link: Submit to the FORUM.
- Submission Format: Attach an MS Word document in Universal Manuscript Format with the following format (this format is firm and universal). Double-spaced, 12 point font, Times New Roman, 1 in margins, heading with name, address, email, website (if applicable), and phone number on page one. Page two and forward should have in the top right corner your last name and page number.
- Word Count: 1000 words or less (this is firm)
- First Draft: As you write the first draft, let your creativity go where it needs to go. First drafts are meant to be messy and creatively uninhibited. After writing the first draft, lay it to the side for at least a day before revising.
- Second Draft: Read through again, and revise for language and lyricism. Consider, during this revision, how the two characters interact and what that might mean in a sociopolitical and/or human relationship way. How do they foil each other? Flesh out any sections that might further reflect this sociopolitical undercurrent of the work but be careful not to make this undercurrent too obvious. Let the reader have room to work this out for him or herself. Remember, we don’t answer questions for our readers, we simply prompt our readers to ask good questions. Giving our readers room to make meaning for themselves within our narratives is a sign of artistic and literary excellence. Now, lay the work aside for at least a day before your next revision.
- Third Draft: Now read this revision aloud as you record yourself. Upon listening to your recording, consider any language issues in your revision. You might also ask a trusted reader to read the manuscript aloud to you as you sit with your own copy and make revisions. Hearing our language aloud is one of the quickest and surest ways to improve pacing, tone, and cadence.
- Forum: Upload your course-created work to your course and month forum so that other students in the course can read your work and give you feedback on your story. MAKE SURE YOU ARE UPLOADING YOUR STORY TO THE CORRECT FORUM AND COURSE. Group feedback runs on the honor code. Submit only one work by the due date, next Sunday 6 pm. Your feedback given on each story need be no more than a paragraph or two and should include elements that are working and elements that require further work.
- Favorite Forum Works: Beginning with Week 2, after you’ve read through all the student submissions, pick your favorite work from each peer’s course-created content. Mark this work as favorited. At the end of the course, you will each be able to review each others’ profiles and see which of your works are the favorites of your peers and instructor.
- Submissions to the Instructor: The last week of class, you will choose one favorite piece from the works you’ve created in this course for submission to Rae. You will be given the chance to flesh it out and make it longer. Your peers will give feedback on your story in short paragraph form. Rae will give you specific copy editing and contextual feedback.
- Please make sure to contact me directly with any questions regarding assignments and technology. firstname.lastname@example.org. The fastest way to get ahold of me is a text to 301-514-2380. The below question/discussion area is really for student and lesson interaction and I won’t be checking it everyday.