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This article is about the novel published in 1971. For information about the 1973 film, see The Exorcist .

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 Universitymarker, a Jesuit and Catholic school.

The exorcism was partially performed in both Mount Rainier, Marylandmarker and Bel-Nor, Missourimarker. Several area newspapers reported on a speech a priest gave to an amateur parapsychology society, in which he claimed to have exorcised a demon from a thirteen-year-old boy named Ronald, and that the ordeal lasted a little more than six weeks, ending on April 19, 1949.


An elderly Jesuit priest named Father Lankester Merrin is leading an archaeological dig in northern Iraqmarker 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


  1. Feeling devilish? Try The Exorcist
  2. St.Louis stories

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