Messiah (Vidal novel)

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Messiah (1954 novel)
Author Gore Vidal
Country United States
Language English
Genre Novel
Publisher E. P. Dutton & Co., Inc., New York
Publication date
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback)
Pages 222
ISBN 9780141180397
Preceded by The Judgement of Paris
Followed by A Thirsty Evil

Messiah is a satirical novel by Gore Vidal, first published in 1954 in the United States by E.P. Dutton.[1] It is the story of the creation of a new religion, Cavism, which quickly comes to replace the established but failing Christian religion.

Plot summary[edit]

The novel is written as the memoir of Eugene Luther, one of the first followers of Cavism, founded by John Cave, an American undertaker. One of the basic precepts of the new religion is the glorification of death. True followers of Cavism regard death as holy and to be sought gladly. It has been seen by some commentators as a prophecy of future cult leaders such as Jim Jones and David Koresh. The founder John Cave is himself cynically killed by his followers when he proves inconvenient for the new religion's development.

Eventually, Cavism is successful in completely displacing and extirpating Christianity, even to the extent of all Gothic Cathedrals being systematically blown up and destroyed in order to erase any memory of it. The narrator, having quarreled with the other religious leaders, finds refuge in Egypt - Islamic countries having forbidden Cavism any access to their territory. He eventually discovers that his name was removed from the Cavist Scriptures which he had himself composed. Also, a woman Cavist leader named Iris, whom he had known, becomes a new manifestation of the ancient Mother Goddess - which had earlier been manifested in The Virgin Mary and before that in Isis and others. This "Irisian" element becomes grafted on to Cavism, as it was earlier grafted on Christianity.


  1. ^ Guide to First Edition Prices 2004/5, Tartarus Press