The Exorcist: A Brief History of the Book and its Achievements

The Exorcist is a classic horror novel written by William Peter Blatty. First published in 1971, it has since become one of the most influential and iconic works in the horror genre. This thrilling tale follows the demonic possession of a young girl and the subsequent attempts to save her soul through an exorcism.

Plot Summary

The story centers around Regan MacNeil, a 12-year-old girl who starts exhibiting strange and disturbing behavior. Her mother, Chris MacNeil, becomes increasingly concerned as Regan’s behavior worsens and develops into something beyond explanation. As the situation becomes more dire, Chris enlists the help of two priests to perform an exorcism as a last resort to save her daughter’s life.

The intense and horrifying events that unfold during the exorcism play out against the backdrop of the intersection between faith, religion, and the battle between good and evil. Blatty masterfully weaves a tale that delves into the darkest depths of human nature and spirituality.

Reception and Awards

Upon its release, The Exorcist quickly became a bestseller and garnered widespread critical acclaim. The literary world recognized the book for its gripping storytelling and its ability to truly terrify readers. It received the prestigious Bram Stoker Award for Best Novel in 1971.

The novel’s success led to its adaptation into a highly successful and beloved film in 1973, directed by William Friedkin. The film propelled The Exorcist into pop culture consciousness and further solidified its place as a horror masterpiece.


Regan MacNeil: The possessed 12-year-old girl who becomes the central focus of the story. Regan’s transformation from an innocent child to a vessel for evil sets the stage for the haunting events that unfold.

Chris MacNeil: Regan’s mother, a famous actress. Chris becomes increasingly desperate as she witnesses her daughter’s decline and seeks whatever help she can find to save her.

Father Damien Karras: One of the priests enlisted to perform the exorcism. Karras is a complex character who struggles with his own crisis of faith while battling the very embodiment of evil.

Father Lankester Merrin: The experienced exorcist who, along with Father Karras, confronts the demon that possesses Regan. Merrin’s knowledge of exorcism becomes crucial in the fight against evil.

Burke Dennings: A film director and friend of Chris MacNeil, whose mysterious death in the early stages of the novel sets the stage for the unfolding supernatural events.

Sharon Spencer: Chris MacNeil’s assistant and a vital supporting character who provides emotional support and assistance throughout the ordeal.


The Exorcist is an enduring masterpiece that has captivated readers and audiences for decades. Blatty’s ability to create a gripping story filled with terror, suspense, and thought-provoking themes has cemented the novel’s status as a classic in the horror genre. Whether experienced through the pages of the book or on the silver screen, The Exorcist continues to terrify and fascinate, leaving an indelible mark on the literary and cinematic world.

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