The Exorcist Author:William Peter Blaty An elderly Jesuit priest named Father Lankester Merrin is leading an archaeological dig in northern Iraq and is studying ancient relics. Following the discovery of a small statue of the demon Pazuzu (an actual ancient Assyrian demigod) and a modern-day St. Joseph medal curiously juxtaposed together at the site, a series of omens alerts him to a ... more »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 mother, actress Chris MacNeil, 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.
The bishop with whom he consults does not believe Karras is qualified to perform the rites, and appoints the experienced Merrin, who has recently returned to the United States, to perform the exorcism; although he does allow the doubt-ridden Karras to assist him. The lengthy exorcism tests the priests both physically and spiritually. When Merrin, who had previously suffered cardiac arrhythmia, dies during the process, completion of the exorcism ultimately falls upon Father Karras. When he demands that the demonic spirit inhabit him instead of the innocent Regan, the demon seizes the opportunity to possess the priest. Karras surrenders his own life in exchange for Regan's by jumping out of her bedroom window.« less