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The Exorcist  
Author William Peter Blatty
Country United States
Language English
Genre(s) Horror
Publisher Harper & Row Publishers
Publication date 1971
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback)
Pages 340 pp
ISBN ISBN 0-06-100722-6 (reprint)
OCLC Number 29760583
Followed by Legion
This article is about the novel published in 1971. For information about the 1973 film, see The Exorcist (film).

The Exorcist is a horror novel written by William Peter Blatty. It is based on a 1949 exorcism Blatty heard about while he was a student in the class of 1950 at Georgetown University, a Jesuit and Catholic school.

The exorcism was purportedly performed in Mount Rainier, Maryland.[1] The Washington Post[2] and supposedly other local newspapers reported on a speech a priest gave to an amateur parapsychology society, in which he claimed to have exorcised a demon from a 13-year-old boy named Ronald, and that the ordeal lasted a little more than six weeks, ending on April 19, 1949.

In 1999, reporter Mark Opsasnick disputed the claims of an exorcism taking place in Mount Rainier. Writing for Strange Magazine, he researched and wrote an in-depth article investigating the reported facts connected with the fictional horror novel. Opsasnick's article, The Haunted Boy of Cottage City: the Facts Behind the Story that Inspired the Exorcist, revealed the actual location to be Cottage City, Maryland. According to Opsasnick's interview with Father Walter Halloran, who assisted in the exorcism, there were "...no strange foreign languages (other than mimicked Latin), no changes in tone of voice, no prodigious strength, no excessive vomiting or urinating..." At the conclusion of his research, Opsasnick did not believe the 14-year-old boy was actually possessed by a diabolical spirit.[3]

Plot

An elderly Jesuit priest named Father Lankester Merrin is leading an archaeological dig in northern Iraq and studying ancient relics. Following the discovery of a small statue of the demon Pazuzu (an actual ancient Sumerian demigod) and a modern-day St. Joseph medal curiously juxtaposed together at the site, a series of omens alerts him to a pending confrontation with a powerful evil, which unknown to the reader at this point, he has battled before in an exorcism in Africa. Meanwhile, in Georgetown, a young girl named Regan MacNeil living with her famous actress mother, Chris, becomes inexplicably ill. After a gradual series of poltergeist-like disturbances, she undergoes disturbing psychological and physical changes, appearing to become "possessed" by a demonic spirit.

After several unsuccessful psychiatric and medical treatments, Regan's mother turns to a local Jesuit priest. Father Damien Karras, who is currently going through a crisis of faith coupled with the loss of his mother, agrees to see Regan as a psychiatrist, but initially resists the notion that it is an actual demonic possession. After a few meetings with the child, now completely inhabited by a diabolical personality, he turns to the local bishop for permission to perform an exorcism on the child.

After consultation with the Jesuit president of Georgetown, the bishop appoints the experienced Merrin, recently returned to the States, to perform the exorcism and allows the doubt-ridden Karras to assist him. The lengthy exorcism tests the priests, both physically and spiritually. After the death of Merrin, the task ultimately restores Karras' faith, leading him to give his own life to save Regan's.

See also

References

  1. ^ Mark Opsasnick (1999). "Feeling devilish? Try The Exorcist". Strange Magazine. http://www.strangemag.com/exorcistpage1.html. Retrieved 2010-1-4.   Part 1 of 5
  2. ^ Bill Brinkley. “Priest Frees Mt. Rainier Boy Reported Held In Devil’s Grip” Washington Post (August 20, 1949)
  3. ^ Mark Opsasnick (1999). "The Haunted Boy of Cottage City". Strange Magazine Issue 20. http://www.strangemag.com/exorcistpage1.html. Retrieved 2010-1-4.   The article is serialized into 5 parts.

Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to The Exorcist (film) article)

From Wikiquote

The Exorcist is a 1973 film about a troubled cleric who sees a means of redemption in helping combat devil possession and in the subsequent exorcism of the demonic spirits from a young, innocent girl.

Directed by William Friedkin. Written by William Peter Blatty, based on his novel.
Something Beyond Comprehension Is Happening To A Little Girl On This Street, In This House. A Man Has Been Called For As A Last Resort To Try And Save Her. That Man Is The Exorcist. taglines
Spoiler warning: Plot, ending, or solution details follow.

Contents

Father Damien Karras

  • There's not a day in my life that I don't feel like a fraud. Other priests, doctors, lawyers - I talk to them all. I don't know anyone who hasn't felt that.
  • Take me. Come into me. God-damn you. Take me. Take me.

Chris MacNeil

  • [trying to reach her ex-husband] Oh circuits, my ass. He doesn't give a shit...Operator, don't tell me there's no answer, it's the Hotel Excelsior in Rome... Would you try it again please and let it ring...Operator, I've given you the number four times...I've been on this fucking line for twenty minutes!
  • " You're sorry, Jesus Christ 88 Doctors and all you can tell me with all of your bullshit is??!!!"

Regan MacNeil

  • My bed was shaking. I can't get to sleep.
  • [to an astronaut guest at Chris' party] You're gonna die up there. [urinates on the carpet]
  • Oh please, Mother, make it stop! It's hurting.
  • [possessed voice] Keep away! The sow is mine!
  • [possessed voice] Fuck me! Fuck me!
  • [possessed voice] Let Jesus fuck you, let Jesus fuck you! Let him fuck you!
  • [possessed voice] Do you know what she did? Your cunting daughter?
  • [possessed voice, to Father Merrin] Stick your cock up her ass, you mother-fucking worthless cocksucker!
  • [possessed voice] Your mother sucks cocks in hell, Karras, you faithless slime.
  • [possessed voice, to father Karras] You killed your mother. You left her alone to die.

Father Merrin

  • Especially important is the warning to avoid conversations with the demon. We may ask what is relevant but anything beyond that is dangerous. He is a liar. The demon is a liar. He will lie to confuse us. But he will also mix lies with the truth to attack us. The attack is psychological, Damien, and powerful. So don't listen to him. Remember that - do not listen.
  • It's the power of Christ! The power of Christ compels you!

Others

  • Lt. Kinderman: If certain British doctors never asked "What is this fungus?" we wouldn't today have penicillin, correct?
  • Father Dyer: My idea of Heaven is a solid white nightclub with me as a headliner for all eternity, and they LOVE me.

Dialogue

Karras: Mama, I could take you somewhere where you'd be safe. You wouldn't be alone. There would be people around. You know, you wouldn't be sitting here listening to a radio.
Mother: [speaks in Greek] ...You understand me? This is my house and I'm not going no place. Dimmy, you're worried for something?
Karras: No, Mama.
Mother: You're not happy. Tell me, what is the matter?
Karras: Mama, I'm all right, I'm fine, really I am.

Chris: [about a Ouija board] Wait a minute, you need two.
Regan: No ya don't. I do it all the time.
Chris: Oh yeah. Well let's both play.
...
Chris: You really don't want me to play, huh?
Regan: No, I do. Captain Howdy said no.
Chris: Captain who?
Regan: Captain Howdy.
Chris: Who's Captain Howdy?
Regan: You know, I make the questions and he does the answers.

Karras: It's my mother, Tom. She's alone. I never should have left her. At least in New York, I'd be near, I'd be closer.
Tom: Could see about a transfer, Damien.
Karras: I need re-assignment, Tom. I want out of this job. It's wrong. It's no good.
Tom: You're the best we've got.
Karras: Yeah, not really. It's more than psychiatry, and you know that Tom. Some of their problems come down to faith, their vocation and meaning of their lives, and I can't cut it anymore. I need out. I'm unfit. I think I've lost my faith, Tom.

Chris: What made you say that, Regan? Do you know, sweetheart?
Regan: Mother? What's wrong with me?
Chris: It's just like the doctor said. It's nerves, and that's all. OK? You just take your pills and you'll be fine, really. OK?

Dr. Klein: It's a symptom of a type of disturbance in the chemical-electrical activity of the brain. In the case of your daughter, in the temporal lobe - it's up here - in the lateral part of the brain. It's rare, but it does cause bizarre hallucinations and usually just before a convulsion...the shaking of the bed. It's doubtless due to muscular spasms.
Chris: Oh no. No, no. That was not a spasm. Look. I got on the bed. The whole bed was thumping and rising off the floor and shaking - the whole thing, with me on it!
Dr. Klein: Mrs. MacNeil, the problem with your daughter is not her bed, it's her brain.
Chris: So, uhm, what causes this...?
Dr. Klein: A lesion. A lesion in the temporal lobe. It's a kind of seizure disorder.
Chris: Now look Doc, I really don't understand how her whole personality could change.
Dr. Klein: The temporal lobe is very common...It could last for days or even weeks. It isn't rare to find destructive, even criminal behavior.
Chris: Hey, do me a favor, will ya? Tell me somethin' good.
Dr. Klein: Don't be alarmed. If it's a lesion, in a way she's fortunate. All we have to do is remove the scar.

Chris: Well give me an example, like what specifically did she say?
Dr. Klein: Specifically Mrs. MacNeil she advised me to keep my fingers away from her goddamned cunt.

Dr. Klein: She's heavily sedated. She'll probably sleep through tomorrow.
Chris: What was going on in there? How could she fly off the bed like that?
Dr. Klein: Pathological states can induce abnormal strength. Accelerated motor performance. Now, for example, say a 90 pound woman sees her child pinned under the wheel of a truck. Runs out and lifts the wheels a half a foot up off the ground - you've heard the story - same thing here. Same principle, I mean.
Chris: So what's wrong with her?
Dr. Klein: We still think the temporal lobe.
Chris: Oh what are you talking about, for Christ's sakes? Did you see her or not? She's acting like she's fucking out of her mind, psychotic, like a... split personality or ...
Dr. Klein: There haven't been more than a hundred authentic cases of so-called split personality, Mrs. MacNeil. Now I know the temptation is to leap to psychiatry. But any reasonable psychiatrist would exhaust the somatic possibilities first.
Chris: So, what's next?
Dr. Klein: A pneumoencephalogram, I would think. Pin down that lesion. It will involve another spinal.
Chris: Oh, Christ!
Dr. Klein: What we missed in the EEG and the arteriograms could conceivably turn up there. At least, it would eliminate certain other possibilities.

Chuck: I suppose you heard.
Chris: Heard what?
Chuck: You haven't heard. Burke's dead. He must have been drunk. He fell down from the top of the steps right outside. By the time he hit M Street, he broke his neck.

Psychiatrist: When I touch your forehead, open your eyes. How old are you?
Regan: Twelve.
Psychiatrist: Is there someone inside you?
Regan: Sometimes.
Psychiatrist: Who is it?
Regan: I don't know.
Psychiatrist: Is it Captain Howdy?
Regan: I don't know.
Psychiatrist: If I ask him to tell me, will you let him answer?
Regan: No!
Psychiatrist: Why not?
Regan: I'm afraid.
Psychiatrist: If he talks to me, I think he'll leave you. Do you want him to leave you?
Regan: Yes.
Psychiatrist: I'm speaking to the person inside of Regan now. If you are there, you too are hypnotized and must answer all my questions. Come forward and answer me now.
[Regan growls and contorts on the bed]
Psychiatrist: Are you the person inside of Regan? Who are you?
[Regan slams her fist into the Psychiatrist's groin]

Kinderman: Well, this desecration in the church. Do you think this has anything to do with witchcraft?
Karras: Maybe. Some rituals use the Black Mass. Maybe.
Kinderman: And now, Dennings, you read how he died?
Karras: In a fall.
Kinderman: Let me tell ya how, and please Father, confidential. Burke Dennings, good Father, was found at the bottom of those steps leading to M Street with his head turned completely around - facing backwards.
Karras: It didn't happen in the fall?
Kinderman: It's possible. Possible, however -
Karras: ...unlikely.
Kinderman: Exactly. So on the one hand, we've got a witchcraft kind of murder, and on the other hand a Black Mass type desecration in the church.
Karras: You think the killer and the desecrator are the same?
Kinderman: Maybe somebody crazy. Somebody with a spite against the church. Some unconscious rebellion.
Karras: A sick priest - is that it?
Kinderman: Look, Father, this is hard for you. Please, I understand, but for priests on the campus here, you're the psychiatrist. You know who was sick at the time, who wasn't. I mean, this kind of sickness. You'd know that.
Karras: I don't know anyone who fits that description.
Kinderman: Ah! Doctor's ethics! If you knew, you wouldn't tell, huh?
Karras: No, I probably wouldn't.
Kinderman: Not to bother you with trivia, but a psychiatrist, in sunny California no less, was put in jail for not telling the police what he knew about a patient.
Karras: Is that a threat?
Kinderman: No, I mention it only in passing.
Karras: Incidentally, I mention it only in passing. I could always tell the judge it was a matter of confession.

Dr. Barringer: There is one outside chance for a cure. I think of it as shock treatment - as I said, it's a very outside chance...Have you ever heard of exorcism? Well, it's a stylized ritual in which the rabbi or the priest try to drive out the so-called invading spirit. It's been pretty much discarded these days except by the Catholics who keep it in the closet as a sort of an embarrassment, but uh, it has worked. In fact, although not for the reasons they think, of course. It's purely a force of suggestion. The victim's belief in possession is what helped cause it, so in that same way, a belief in the power of exorcism can make it disappear.
Chris: You're telling me that I should take my daughter to a witch doctor? Is that it?

Kinderman: It's strange. The deceased comes to visit - stays only 20 minutes. And leaves all alone a very sick girl. And speaking plainly, Mrs. MacNeil, it isn't likely he would fall from a window. Besides, a fall wouldn't do to his neck what we found, except maybe one chance in a thousand. Nope, my hunch, my opinion - he was killed by a very powerful man - point one. And the fracturing of his skull - point two. Plus the various other things we mentioned would make it very probable, probable, not certain, that the deceased was killed and then pushed from your daughter's window. But nobody was in the room, except your daughter. So how can this be? It could be one way. If someone came calling between the time Miss Spencer left and the time you returned...
Chris: Judas Priest. Just a second.

Chris: How do you go about getting an exorcism?
Karras: I beg your pardon? Well, the first thing - I'd have to get into a time machine and get back to the 16th century...Well, it just doesn't happen any more, Mrs. MacNeil...since we learned about mental illness, paranoia, schizophrenia...Since the day I joined the Jesuits, I've never met one priest who has performed an exorcism. Not one.

Chris: Someone very close to me is probably possessed and needs an exorcism. Father Karras, it's my little girl.
Karras: The Catholic Church insists on proof that the devil is really in a person. Then that's all the more reason to forget about exorcism...To begin with, it could make things worse. Secondly, the church before it approves an exorcism conducts an investigation to see if it's warranted. That takes time...I need church approval and that's rarely given. I will see her as a psychiatrist.
Chris: Oh, not a psychiatrist. She needs a priest. She's already seen every fucking psychiatrist in the world and they sent me to you. Now you're gonna send me back to them? Jesus Christ! Won't somebody help me?...Can't you help her, just help her?

Karras: Hello, Regan. I'm a friend of your mothers. I'd like to help you.
Regan: Why not loosen the straps then?
Karras: I'm afraid you might hurt yourself, Regan.
Regan: I'm not Regan.
Karras: I see. Well then, let's introduce ourselves. I'm Damien Karras.
Regan: I'm the devil. Now kindly undo these straps!
Karras: If you're the devil, why not make the straps disappear?
Regan: That's much too vulgar a display of power, Karras.
Karras: Where's Regan?
Regan: In here - with us.
Karras: Show me Regan and I'll loosen one of the straps.
Regan: Can you help an old altar boy, Father?... Your mother's in here with us, Karras. Would you like to leave a message? I'll see that she gets it.
Karras: If that's true, then you must know my mother's maiden name. What is it? What is it?
[Regan vomits onto Karras]

Karras: Look, I'm only against the possibility of doing your daughter more harm than good...I can't do it. I need evidence that the church would accept as signs of possession...like her speaking in a language she's never known or studied...Look, your daughter doesn't say she's a demon. She says she's the devil himself. Now if you've seen as many psychotics as I have, you realize that's the same thing as saying you're Napoleon Bonaparte. You asked me what I think is best for your daughter. Six months, under observation, in the best hospital you can find.
Chris: I'm telling you that that thing upstairs isn't my daughter. Now I want you to tell me that you know for a fact that there's nothing wrong with my daughter except in her mind. YOU TELL ME YOU KNOW FOR A FACT THAT AN EXORCISM WOULDN'T DO ANY GOOD! YOU TELL ME THAT!

Regan: What an excellent day for an exorcism.
Karras: You'd like that?
Regan: Intensely.
Karras: But wouldn't that drive you out of Regan?
Regan: It would bring us together.
Karras: You and Regan.
Regan: You and us.

Karras: I think it might be helpful if I gave you some background on the different personalities Regan has manifested. So far, I'd say there seem to be three. She's convinced...
Merrin: There is only one.

Merrin: I cast you out! Unclean Spirt!
Regan: Shove it up your ass, you faggot!
Merrin: In the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ! It is he who commands you! It is he who flung you from the gates of Heaven to the depths of Hell!
Regan: Fuck Him!
Merrin: Be gone...
Regan: Fuck Him, Karras! Fuck Him!
Merrin: ...from this creature of God!
[Regan moaning]
Merrin: Be gone! In the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit!

Chris: Would you like some bourbon in that, father?
Merrin: Well, my doctor says I shouldn't but thank God my will is weak.

Karras: Why her? Why this girl?
Merrin: I think the point is to make us despair. To see ourselves as... animal and ugly. To make us reject the possibility that God could love us.

Regan: [in Karras' mother's voice] Dimmy, why did you do this to me? Please Dimmy, I'm afraid.
Karras: You're not my mother!
Merrin: Don't listen...Get out!

Chris: She doesn't remember any of it.
Father Dyer: That's good.

Taglines

  • Something Beyond Comprehension Is Happening To A Little Girl On This Street, In This House. A Man Has Been Called For As A Last Resort To Try And Save Her. That Man Is The Exorcist.
  • The Devil Inside.
  • Somewhere Between Science And Superstition, There Is Another World. The World Of Darkness.
  • Nobody Expected It, Nobody Believed It, And Nobody Could Stop It. The One Hope, The Only Hope: THE EXORCIST.

Cast

External links

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