News Article

News Article

William Peter Blatty’s 'The Exorcist': The Version You’ve Never Read


The Exorcist. The name alone sends chills down the spines of readers and movie goers everywhere.  Movie goers got their "Version You've Never Seen," and now readers have theirs.  William Peter Blatty and Harper released The Exorcist: The 40th Anniversary Edition on October 3, 2011 in trade hardcover and eBook formats.  To add awesomeness to the mix, Lonely Road Books will be releasing a Signed Limited Edition and Signed Lettered Edition of The Exorcist: The 40th Anniversary Edition (newly illustrated by talented horror artist Caniglia).

In 1971, the original The Exorcist was unleashed on a very willing public.  Now, 40 years later, What makes this version of the classic book different? Well, basically Mr. Blatty went over the whole original manuscript and gave it the second draft that it never had…including adding brand new characters and scenes!  Here… I'll let him explain from his official Press Release:

In January 1968, I rented a cabin in Lake Tahoe to start writing a novel about demonic possession that I'd been thinking about for many years. I‘d been driven to it, actually: I was a writer of comic novels and farcical screenplays such as A Shot in the Dark with almost all of my income derived from films; but because the season for "funny" had abruptly turned dry and no studio would hire me for anything non-comedic, I had reached James Thurber's stage of desperation when, as he wrote in a "Preface to His Life," comedy writers sometimes take to "calling their home from their office, or their office from their home, asking for themselves, and then hanging up in hard-breathing relief upon being told they 'weren't in.'" My breaking point came, I suppose, when at the Van Nuys, California, unemployment office I spotted my movie agent in a line three down from mine. And so the cabin in Tahoe where I was destined to become the caretaker in Stephen King's terrifying The Shining, typing my version of "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy" hour after hour, day after day, for over six weeks as I kept changing the date in my opening paragraph from "April 1" to April something else, because each time I would read the page aloud, the rhythm of the lines seemed to change, a maddening cycle of emptiness and insecurity — magnified, I suppose, by the fact that I had no clear plot for the novel in mind — that continued until I at last gave up the cabin and hoped for better luck back "home," a clapboard raccoon-surrounded guest house in the hills of Encino owned by a former Hungarian opera star who had purchased the property from the luminous film actress, Angela Lansbury, and where I finally overcame the block by realizing that I was starting the novel in the wrong place, namely the Georgetown section of Washington, D.C., as opposed to northern Iraq. Almost a year later I completed a first draft of the novel. At the request of my editors at Harper and Row, I did make two quick changes: cleaning up Chris MacNeil's potty mouth, and making the ending "less obvious." But because of a dire financial circumstance, I had not another day to devote to the manuscript, so that when I received a life-saving offer to adapt Calder Willingham's novel Providence Island for the screen for Paul Newman's film company, I instantly accepted and left my novel to find its fate. For most of these past forty years I have rued not having done a thorough second draft and careful polish of the dialogue and prose. But now, like an answer to a prayer, this fortieth anniversary of the novel has given me not only the opportunity to do another draft, but to do it at a time in my life — I will be 84 this coming January — when it might not be totally unreasonable to hope that my abilities, such as they are, have at least somewhat improved, and for all of this I say, Deo gratias!

— William Peter Blatty

I recently read the original version of The Exorcist and its sequel Legion as a double novel released by Cemetery Dance Publications.  I really enjoyed the story and I couldn't believe how much it made me laugh.  Yes, I said laugh.  It was scary too, but Mr. Blatty's humor is amazing.  The story flew by for me at rocket-speed and I couldn't turn the pages fast enough to read and enjoy the novel completely.  After enjoying the story so much, I can see why it was a best seller (17 consecutive weeks at number one on the New York Times bestseller list) and why the movie did so well.   I liked it so much, that I am more than willing to re-visit little innocent Regan MacNeil and Father Damien Karras (and Bill Kinderman too) in this new version of the novel.

If you are champing at the bit to read this new 40th Anniversary Edition of The Exorcist like I am, then you can get the Harper trade hardcover right now at your local bookstore or even for your Kindle, Nook, or other eReader.  I'm going to wait for the Signed Limited Edition from Lonely Road Books.  Pre-orders started October 18, 2011, and there are only 400 books total (374 Limited, 26 Lettered).   Oh… I better hurry!

The Exorcist: The 40th Anniversary Edition signed Limited Edition is available at:

Trade Editions are available at your local retailer or favorite online bookshop.

Kindle, Nook and other eBook editions are also available.

Robert Brouhard is a freelance writer and Assistant Editor. His poetry has appeared in Death in Common: Poems from Unlikely Victims edited by Rich Ristow, and he has additional poetry and short stories scheduled to appear in other anthologies in the future. You can catch him writing reviews at Mark Sieber's Horror Drive-In, and he also tries to keep a blog about (mostly children's) books going called Book ‘em Bob.