Best Nap in American Literature

Woman-BathingHow do you like to nap? For me, it’s like this: on top of the covers (never under the covers) with an extra blanket over me. Light outside (never nap when dark), with some sort of filtering of the light that is coming into the room. Some noise in the background. No socks and otherwise undressed to base layer, usually, for me, a tank top (without bra) and underwear.

Obviously there are other considerations as well. Is the nap an everyday-life nap or a vacation nap? I don’t believe that one is quantitatively better than the other, but they are of quite different kinds. A nap should not be rushed; neither should it be overlong. Entrance into the nap is also of concern: too tired and one falls too deeply, too quickly. Not tired enough and one lies there with eyes actively pressed shut. I rarely like to read myself into a nap, though I read myself to sleep at night quite often. Being woken by a child finishing his or her nap undoes quite a bit of the work of the nap; ideally one wishes to wake on one’s own. A Nap of One’s Own, if you will.

Here is what I believe to be the Best Nap in American Literature, and perhaps in all of literature. What do you think? Have you ever read a better nap? From Kate Chopin’s The Awakening:

Edna, left alone in the little side room, loosened her clothes, removing the greater part of them. She bathed her face, her neck and arms in the basin that stood between the windows. She took off her shoes and stockings and stretched herself in the very center of the high, white bed. How luxurious it felt to rest thus in a strange, quaint bed, with its sweet country odor of laurel lingering about the sheets and mattress! She stretched her strong limbs that ached a little. She ran her fingers through her loosened hair for a while. She looked at her round arms as she held them straight up and rubbed them one after the other, observing closely, as if it were something she saw for the first time, the fine, firm quality and texture of her flesh. She clasped her hands easily above her head, and it was thus she fell asleep.

She slept lightly at first, half awake and drowsily attentive to the things about her. She could hear Madame Antoine’s heavy, scraping tread as she walked back and forth on the sanded floor. Some chickens were clucking outside the windows, scratching for bits of gravel in the grass. Later she half heard the voices of Robert and Tonie talking under the shed. She did not stir. Even her eyelids rested numb and heavily over her sleepy eyes. The voices went on—Tonie’s slow, Acadian drawl, Robert’s quick, soft, smooth French. She understood French imperfectly unless directly addressed, and the voices were only part of the other drowsy, muffled sounds lulling her senses.

Sarah Blackwood: Team Bella


  1. January 22, 2013 @ 1:09 pm Josh Joy Kamensky

    I’ll give you Chopin in your final four, but Rip van Winkle merits bracketing.

    Reply

  2. January 22, 2013 @ 6:08 pm Mandy Berry

    I’m very pleased at your use of the qualifier “American” here because the best nap(s) in ALL Literature are found in Shakespeare’s “Cymbeline” where being a woman is equated with being asleep. Which I see is a point which you yourself were nearing but I guess you nodded off, “Sarah.”

    Reply

  3. January 26, 2013 @ 12:39 am Brian Forrest

    Naps need to be celebrated. This speaks to me.

    Reply


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