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The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty

The Exorcist (1971)

by William Peter Blatty

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The Exorcist (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3,7761092,050 (3.89)191
  1. 31
    Legion by William Peter Blatty (JonTheTerrible)
    JonTheTerrible: I quite enjoyed the characters in The Exorcist and felt that Legion gives you a bit more of the enjoyable Kinderman as well as the darkness of the demon. While Legion is not nearly as good as its predecessor it is still an essential read if you enjoyed the mood and pace of The Exorcist.… (more)
  2. 00
    Rosemary's Baby by Ira Levin (sturlington)
  3. 01
    The Case Against Satan by Ray Russell (SomeGuyInVirginia)

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» See also 191 mentions

English (103)  Italian (2)  French (1)  Spanish (1)  Dutch (1)  Hebrew (1)  All languages (109)
Showing 1-5 of 103 (next | show all)
I am not sure what it says about the state of the nation or my mind, but I listened to this as I fell asleep the past week. In its own way, it comforted me. I read the books many years ago and it is better than I remembered it being. Blatty really had some lovely sentences and character development. He read the edition I listened to and his narration was excellent. ( )
  KateSavage | Mar 29, 2019 |
Revisiting my childhood with this. Well, early adolescence. This was, I believe, the first "adult" novel I read, when I was 12 or 13. (It was either this or [b:Jaws|126232|Jaws|Peter Benchley|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1327958767s/126232.jpg|2318370].) My family was visiting my grandparents and I found this on the shelf. While they had boring conversation in the other room, I, as usual, was escaping into a good book. I probably didn't understand everything in it, and I'm sure I learnt a few new words, but I enjoyed it enough that I finished the entire novel that evening. They let me keep it.

Many years later I would finally see the film, which I found ridiculous.

I occasionally wondered what my perspective on the story would be as an adult and as an atheist. I rarely reread books, but when I saw this 40th anniversary edition with its pretty red cover, I decided to go ahead and get it. (My old purple paperback is long gone.)

I still really liked it. The story isn't as religious as one might expect, despite the subject matter. Most of the central characters, including the priest, are skeptics and nonbelievers. Even the church won't allow an exorcism without considerable investigation and evidence by modern scientific standards. The exorcism itself is in the last chapter. There is some pseudoscience regarding the paranormal, but the overall tone isn't one of mysticism.

The writing has a nice literary quality to it, though it lets itself down when depicting the transgressive actions of the demon inside Regan MacNeil. I found the juvenile obscenities and antics it comes up with somewhat laughable, like things you might read in a public restroom. It was far more frightening when it was actually being insidious. One of the first things Regan does when she comes under its influence is tell an astronaut at a dinner party that he's "going to die up there." Simple but chilling, and far more interesting than continuous vomiting or making vulgar suggestions about Fr. Karras' mother. Thankfully, there's a lot more to the book than that.

Anyway, it is a page-turner. An enjoyable and weirdly nostalgic experience. If you liked the movie (!), read the book. ( )
  chaosfox | Feb 22, 2019 |
I have wanted to read The Exorcist for a while and I finally got the nerve to. I also wanted to make sure I read it fast which I did, so I wasn’t dwelling on it too much. I finished it in less than a week. What I found on reading this one is that it was terrifying yes, but also full of almost poetic writing with a well-developed plot and with characters that you root for. It is essentially a story about good vs. evil. The book is pretty much the same as the film but it has more heart.

I tend to become easily immersed in the books that I read so this was a scary experience for me but ironically The Exorcist has become a new favorite horror novel. It is easily the scariest book I have ever read.


disclaimer: This review is my honest opinion. I did not receive any kind of compensation for reading and reviewing this book. I am under no obligation to write a positive review. I received a free The Exorcist through my Amazon Prime membership. ( )
  bookworm_naida | Jan 27, 2019 |
There's not much I can say about this book that hasn't been said many times over. I remember seeing the movie and being freaked out. However, the book didn't scare me (though I will admit I'm tough to scare). In fact, the book mostly plods along until the exorcism gets started. The last quarter of the book is great, the first three quarters, not so much... ( )
  Jadedog13 | Oct 9, 2018 |
I hadn’t read this since I dared checking it out of the public library in seventh grade, when I took it to the desk fearing that the librarian would look at me in horror at wanting to read such a thing. I don’t remember if I finished it; all I remember is the feeling of bringing it into my house like I was bringing a suitcase filled stolen diamonds onto a plane. This was spiritual contraband.

Sine then I had, like everyone else, seen the movie. I picked up the novel a few weeks ago because of my reading William Friedkin’s memoir earlier this year and because of an academic project I hope to begin. The good news is that the novel is readable and not embarrassing. Blatty clearly knew how to tell this story, and I am confident that he worked with an editor who shaped the manuscript into a narrative by cutting longer conversations between the characters. I say this because each character is a type: the priest wavering in his vocation, the Jewish Colombo-like detective, the movie-star mother, the dutiful German servants, the older, wise, and strong title character, the innocent girl, and, of course, the demon possessing her. On can imagine the temptation Blatty must have had to have them engage in longer conversations about the challenges of faith or the nature of evil. Hence my suspicion that an editor advised Blatty to keep everything moving, which he does. For all the talk in academic circles about the merits of Dracula, The Exorcist reads like The Ambassadors by comparison.

Also interesting is that all of the scenes we remember from the film—indeed, all of the business with Regan tied to the bed—doesn’t really begin until well over 200 pages into the novel. Regan throwing up is like Huck and Jim on the river: a moment that has survived in the collective imagination that serves as shorthand for the whole experience of the book.

(A note regarding the title: it’s interesting in its inexactitude. The novel should properly be titled The Exorcism, especially since Father Merrin doesn’t really enter the plot until the last eighty pages or so, but Blatty or his editors knew that The Exorcist just sounds better.)

The novel raises many questions about the logistics of demonic possession. (Minor spoilers follow.) For example, we learn that the blasphemous Latin description of the Virgin Mary that was inserted into a local church’s missal was typed on Regan’s mother’s typewriter with a “strong hand.” But why would a demon want to do this? To humiliate the three or four Jesuits in Georgetown who could translate the thing? The same goes for the desecration of that same church. Yes, this brings Kinderman into the plot, since he assumes that the person who desecrated the church also murdered one of the characters, but the demon doesn’t want to bring people together for the sake of a plotline. Here’s another: did Father Merrin’s excavation in Iraq unearth the demon Pazuzu? If so, do demons come from the earth like the genie from the lamp? If that’s the case, there should be a Papal ban on Mesopotamian archeology. And, in the novel’s climactic moment, the demonic algebra might not stand up to proof: if the demon can move quickly from one body to another, why not move back the instant before its host flies out of a window?

For that matter, why would the demon take all of his time in possessing Regan—beginning with the Captain Howdy business, then the noises in the attic, the shaking bed, the cold room, the contortions, and then all of the terrible business everyone remembers from the film: the whites of the eyes, the blasphemes, the vomiting, the levitating? Why not zap! enter “the piglet’s” body and throw her out the window onto those famous steps?

The answer to all of these questions is that Blatty knew to make the demon obey the rules of good storytelling, just as Friedkin had the imagination to turn long passages of dialogue between Karras and the demon into terrifying moviemaking. And all the snotty objections I can make about the plotting proved to be moot when, at 4:00 the other morning, I heard one of my kids talking in his sleep or when—a few minutes ago—one of them silently walked in the room in which I was writing this and scared the hell out of me.
( )
  Stubb | Aug 28, 2018 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Blatty, William PeterAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Reinert, KirkCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To my brothers and sisters, Maurice, Edward and Alyce, and in loving memory of my parents.
First words
Like the brief doomed flare of exploding suns that registers dimly on blind men's eyes, the beginning of the horror passed almost unnoticed; in the shriek of what followed, in fact, was forgotten and perhaps not connected to the horror at all.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
The deceptively simple story focuses on Regan, the 11-year-old daughter of a movie actress residing in Washington, D.C.; the child apparently is possessed by an ancient demon. It's up to a small group of overwhelmed yet determined humans to somehow rescue Regan from this unspeakable fate.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0061007226, Mass Market Paperback)

When originally published in 1971, The Exorcist became not only a bestselling literary phenomenon, but one of the most frightening and controversial novels ever written. (When the author adapted his book to the screen two years later, it then became one of the most terrifying movies ever made.) The deceptively simple story focuses on Regan, the 11-year-old daughter of a movie actress residing in Washington, D.C.; the child apparently is possessed by an ancient demon. It's up to a small group of overwhelmed yet determined humans to somehow rescue Regan from this unspeakable fate. Purposefully raw and profane, this novel still has the extraordinary ability to literally shock us into forgetting that it is "just a story." The Exorcist remains a truly unforgettable reading experience. Blatty published a sequel, Legion, in 1983. --Stanley Wiater

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:13 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

A Jesuit priest, unable to find plausible explanations for an eleven-year-old's strange behavior, begins to suspect demonic possession.

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