- Mass Market Paperback: 385 pages
- Publisher: Harper; First edition (February 1994)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0061007226
- ISBN-13: 978-0061007224
- Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1 x 6.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars See all reviews (669 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #22,277 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Exorcist Mass Market Paperback – May 28, 2013
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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
""The Exorcist" is as superior to most books of its kind as an Einstein equation is to an accountant's column of figures.""--New York Times Book Review""Wonderfully exciting.""--Newsweek""Read the book! It's an experience you will never forget.""--St. Louis Post-Dispatch"
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Top Customer Reviews
The plot of the The Exorcist is well-known to just about everyone. Chris MacNeil and her daughter are living in Georgetown while Chris is filming a new movie. The energetic and happy child, Regan, suddenly begins to change. Strange things begin to happen in the house - rustling noises are heard at night, objects seem to disappear and reappear in strange places, and Regan begins to complain about her bed shaking at night. When Regan's state of mind begins to deteriorate, Chris seeks medical help for her daughter, but the doctors, after a series of complete, agonizing tests, can find no evidence to support their theories of a condition brought about by a lesion in the temporal lobe of the brain. Regan continues to worsen, making wild animal noises, struggling with her caretakers with superhuman strength, cursing like a drunk pirate, speaking with several different voices, projectile vomiting a nasty green substance, claiming to be the devil himself, and - in what is probably the most shocking image of all - hideously violating herself with a religious icon. She eventually has to be strapped into bed for the protection of her as well as those around her. Desperately, the nonreligious Chris turns to the Jesuit priesthood for help, asking for an exorcism to be performed on her daughter. Father Karras studies the case, attempting to find a medical explanation for Regan's behavior even after he witnesses some extraordinary things in Regan's room and converses with the demon claiming to reside within her. In the end, Father Merrin, whom we met in a highly symbolic scene at the beginning of the book, comes to perform an exorcism, engaging once again in battle a demon he had defeated years earlier. The book concludes in a particularly strong, dramatic, and satisfying way.
The descriptions of Regan's behavior and increasingly disturbing actions are laid out in quite open and impacting ways here, but I think this aspect of the story is expressed much more effectively in the movie. It's one thing to read about projectile vomiting, a head spinning completely around, and the other physical manifestations of Regan's condition, but it's something else to actually watch it presented visually onscreen. The book's main strength, in my opinion, comes in the form of the character of Father Karras. The novel provides much deeper access into the mind and soul of this tragically troubled character, and herein is to be found the true heart of the book. The exorcism itself does not take center stage the way it does in the film. Despite all of its religious and demonic attributes, I believe Peter William Blatty's novel is a deep look inside the heart of man as he attempts to make sense and keep the faith in the face of the sometimes revolting human condition.
Those who have seen the movie will benefit greatly from a reading of Blatty's novel. There are a number of sub-plots covered only in these pages, and much of the symbolic and quite subtle aspects of the harrowing drama are not captured in the film at all (or are awkwardly included in the form of symbology that the casual viewer may not notice or recognize). It is interesting for me to ponder why so many find The Exorcist a truly frightening reading experience while I really do not. Perhaps those who are not religious have never really examined pure evil as straightforwardly as they are forced to in the form of this possessed child. In any event, I believe the horror many feel at this undeniably gripping and disturbing story comes not from a vision of the events so vividly described herein, but rather from a consciousness of the changes and perhaps fears wrought upon their own heart and soul by the implications of the experience.
Now I am well into my thirties. I've watched the movie dozens of times over the years. I've read the book a few times & I just recently picked it up again. Times have changed a lot since then, my life has changed a lot, I've seen real horrors, but "The Exorcist" still scare the ever-loving $h!t out of me.
When I was in my teens, I thought they frightened me because I was raised Catholic & heard stories of the devil & the Exorcism of the Gerasene demoniac. But that was my teens. I don't think that any longer.
What it is that is so frightening, I think, are the characters. The characters are real, the likeable priest, the troubled priest, the serious priest, the friendly detective, the good mother, they are all touched by what can only be described as pure evil, an entity of absolute filth & evil. It's enduring & horrific because, through it all, you see friendships develop, you see the touch of absolute evil & see good come out of it & believe it or not, that is the most unsettling & realistic thing that I have ever seen in horror fiction.
That touch of humanity in the face of absolute evil is the most frightening thing that I have ever encountered. It brings the horror home in a way that Stephen King can only dream of.
You really have to read it to understand, & by all means, don't take my word for it, find out for yourself.