" 'white' sleep"

Alice Faber faber at HASKINS.YALE.EDU
Fri Nov 4 20:18:02 UTC 2005

Jonathan Lighter wrote:
> In his 1957 novel _A Death in the Family_, James Agee uses the term "a ' white ' sleep" [Agee's single quotes] to describe the very troubled sleep of an anxious character. The story is set in Knoxville, Tenn., in 1916.
> Is anybody familiar with this phrase?  The quotation marks seem to imply that Agee regarded it as idiomatic, but I can find no other reference to it.

I'm wondering if it isn't a translation from some European language. The
first thing that comes to mind for me is "white nights", with similar
meaning, in a Hebrew novel by Aharon Megged (I believe it might be _The

Alice Faber                                    faber at haskins.yale.edu
Haskins Laboratories                           tel: (203) 865-6163 x258
New Haven, CT 06511 USA                        fax (203) 865-8963

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