Emma, Bride of the Zombie

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Emma, Bride of the Zombie  
Emma cover.jpg
Author Jane Austen
Cover artist Mr David Weaver, RA
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Genre(s) Novel
Publisher Paltrow (Whitehall, London)
Publication date 1810

Emma, Bride of the Zombie is the fourth novel by the English novelist Jane Austen. Published in 1810, only months after The North Abbey Hanging, it sold well despite being something of a rush job, designed to cash in on her burgeoning success. She herself was dismissive of the book, blaming the almost total lack of plot on her editor who insisted on removing a significant segment of the book set in Peru. The reasons for this have never been made apparent, although it is possible Austen's contention that

I rather fancy Machu Picchu to be like Bath but with more mountains[citation needed]

may have had something to do with this.

The story concerns a spoilt young girl called Emma Woodlouse, who spends most of her waking hours matchmaking among the denizens of the village of Highbury. She resolves to find an eligible match for her new friend, Harriet Smith, and encourages her to set her sights on Mr Elton, the local vicar, rejecting the proposal made to her by Robert Martin. However, it turns out that Mr Elton has no interest in poor Harriet whatsoever and would much prefer the company of Emma herself. Mr Dark-Knightley, the brother to Emma's brother-in-brother-in-law and, incidentally, a zombie, watches with detached interest as Emma's plans begin to unravel. He then steps in and kills Mr Elton, eating his brains for supper. Emma, impressed by his bold action, falls head over heels in love with him. Harriet is also now free to marry Robert Martin and all ends happily.

The book has been adapted for the cinema on a number of occasions, including Amy Heckerling's celebrated 1997 version, Lifeless, which relocates the story to a modern Los Angeles high school. An intriguing physical theatre adaptation by Marcel Marceau was also produced for WolverMIME!, the ill-starred 1982 Wolverhampton Mime Festival, although this performance was cleared of any involvement with the subsequent audience riots.

Critical appraisal

Emma, Bride of the Zombie was not well received by the critics, whose reactions ranged from indifference to outright loathing. In particular, Joseph Robert Brighouse remarked that

Truly with this WRETCHED confection, Miss Austen does seem to have mislaid her MOJO. The TALLY of CORPSES is SLENDER indeed and I dare say th'amount of blood SPILL'D would barely fill a PINT POT.

See also

Further reading