First Edition of Gore Vidal's Messiah; Signed by Him
Item Number: 67890
New York: E.P. Dutton & Co., Inc, 1954.
First edition of this satirical novel by Vidal. Octavo, original cloth. Signed by Gore Vidal on a bookplate. Near fine in a near fine price-clipped dust jacket. Jacket design by William Metzig.
Messiah tells the story of the creation of a new religion, Cavism, which quickly comes to replace the established but failing Christian religion. The novel is written as the memoir of Eugene Luther, one of the first followers of Cavism, founded by John Cave, an American undertaker. Cave teaches, among other things, not to fear death and to actually desire it under certain circumstances. Later followers come to glorify death, and even enforce it on other members. The founder John Cave is himself killed by his followers when he proves inconvenient for the new religion's development. Eventually, Cavism is successful in completely displacing and exterminating 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 quarrelled 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.