Flannery O’Connor and Downton Abbey


We hear many complaints about the prevalence of violence in modern fiction, and it is always assumed that this violence is a bad thing and meant to be an end in itself. It is the extreme situation that best reveals what we are essentially, and I believe these are times when writers are more interested in what we are essentially than in the tenor of our daily lives.      — Flannery O’Connor

I am working through Flannery O’Connor’s The Complete Stories this month. The stories aren’t enjoyable and they aren’t light reading. But I trust the folks who have urged me to read her and I get occasional glimpses of the glory that is Flannery.

Clearly, her stories are deep and infused with meaning. O’Connor explains a few things in Mystery and Manners. I came across this quote about violence; it immediately brought to mind the bad thing that happened to Anna in a recent episode of Downton Abbey.

What do you think? I’m mulling this over, differentiating violence in print—where you imagine what happens— and on screen, where an image is deposited in your brain vault.