Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, published in April 2009, is the first of the current trend of literary mash-ups. Author Seth Grahame-Smith took Jane Austen's original text of Pride and Prejudice and added zombie attacks and martial arts defenses. The novel can be considered a product of the recent capitalization on Jane Austen's work in the form of sequels and re-tellings of the original novels. Some critics have claimed that Grahame-Smith's work is merely a commercial tactic, while others view it as a delightful reimagining of Austen's novel.
The story remains essentially the same: Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy immediately dislike one another, but eventually fall in love. The side plots of Jane Bennet's romance with Charles Bingley and Lydia Bennet's misadventures with Wickham are also kept intact. All of the Bennet sisters and many of the gentlemen they encounter are well-versed in martial arts and are able to defend themselves from the "unmentionables" who wander the English countryside. The gardens prominent in Austen's original novel have been replaced with dojos -- necessary for training and keeping the defensive skills sharp. Lady Catherine de Bourgh is not merely respected for her wealth and influence, but for her retinue of ninjas and her impressive dojo.
Much of the social criticism of Austen's novel applies in Grahame-Smith's reinvisioning. The zombies are commonly referred to as "unmentionables," a mark of their social undesirability. The reader is left to infer the origin of these unmentionables, as their origins are indeterminate. The issues of wealth and class are of increasing importance, as only the wealthy are able to devote their time to training for combat. Marriage also continues to be an important point. Charlotte Lucas marries Mr. Collins here, not simply because she is afraid he is her best chance at marriage, but because she has become one of the "unmentionables," and hopes Mr. Collins is too obtuse to notice. The issue of women's equality is also present in the novel, as Elizabeth and Darcy frequently engage in combat, both verbal and physical, with each other as well as with the zombies, only to discover that they are equally matched. Elizabeth is not just Darcy's intellectual equal, but his equal in combat.