Blatty, William Peter The Exorcist

ISBN 13: 9780061007224

The Exorcist

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9780061007224: The Exorcist

Author's Note Regarding The Exorcist 40th Anniversary Edition

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Review:

"There are not many readers who will be unmoved. Well researched, written in a literary style, The Exorcist is as superior to most other books of its kind as an Einstein equation is to an accountant's column of figures."
--The New York Times

From the Author:

In January 1968, I rented a cabin in Lake Tahoe,
California, to start work on 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 fabled 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 informed that 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 virtually
shouted an instant acceptance 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 occasion 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

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