Help me identify this quote/passage that I love!
February 16, 2012 1:38 AM   Subscribe

I'm trying to remember the origin and full quote of a part of a book I read - it mentions 4AM being "the witching hour".

But not in a wiccan way - in an emotional way. It's saying it's kinda too late to go to sleep and too early to wake up with the rest of the world. I keep googling and cannot find it. Please help me. I think it may have been in some sort of self-help and/or eating disorder book, but I'm not positive. Thanks!
posted by jitterbug perfume to Writing & Language (13 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
This is what google found for me:

“4 is the worst time to wake up, as anyone with the normal human sensitivities will tell you. Far too late to make a cup of tea or go back to sleep. Far too early to get up and do something constructive. There's nothing on television but arrogant evangelists and people selling acne solutions and motivational tapes. For me, base 12 philosophy aside, midnight is not the witching hour. 4:00 is.”
― Toni Jordan, Addition
posted by zinon at 2:13 AM on February 16, 2012

Could be Roald Dahl's The BFG?

“The witching hour, somebody had once whispered to her, was a special moment in the middle of the night when every child and every grown-up was in a deep deep sleep, and all the dark things came out from hiding and had the world all to themselves.”

I think there was more than just this quote, too.
posted by PercussivePaul at 2:39 AM on February 16, 2012

not sure if this helps you find the book you have in mind, but as to the origin and history of the phrase, have a look at Tony Quinion's excellent World Wide Words site, specifically
posted by davemack at 2:56 AM on February 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

Yeah, my first thought was The BFG as well... I remember "witching hour" talk in that book, but it's definitely not a self-help type book. Could maybe be the spot the self-help book got it from, though!
posted by Grither at 3:44 AM on February 16, 2012

Almost certainly not, but I thought I'd throw in 4.48 Psychosis, just in case.
posted by robself at 4:13 AM on February 16, 2012

The poet Rives did a TED talk about 4 am. On my phone so I can't review it to check.
posted by brilliantine at 4:47 AM on February 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

Ahh I just say you said book. Sorry!
posted by brilliantine at 4:48 AM on February 16, 2012

My first thought was the BFG too. But yeah, that's not quite a self-help book.
posted by pemberkins at 5:18 AM on February 16, 2012

I always thought it was 3:00 AM. See, e.g. this past thread.
posted by Ian Scuffling at 5:28 AM on February 16, 2012

I haven't seen witching hour used in an emotional sense, just as a "this is the time of night when it's the deepest dark, and things may be about. But I use the L.M. Montgomery concept of having a white night, when it's about three in the morning and you're hopelessly convinced that all your triumphs are dust and you're a failure.

From one of the Emily books: "To-day was stormy. I had a white night last night after four rejections of MSS. I had thought especially good. As Miss Royal predicted, I felt that I had been an awful idiot not to have gone to New York with her when I had the chance. Oh, I don't wonder babies always cry when they wake up in the night. So often I want to do it, too. Everything presses on my soul then and no cloud has a silver lining."
posted by PussKillian at 7:10 AM on February 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

The poet Rives did a TED talk about 4 am. On my phone so I can't review it to check. ... Ahh I just say you said book. Sorry!

The talk gives lots of examples of references to 4am, but only two books: Isabelle Allende's The House of the Spirits and Bill Clinton's My Life.

(The other references: a comic strip in LA Times; a cover story of New York Magazine; songs by Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Faron Young; a scene in The Godfather; a film with Judy Dench; the waking time of Muhammad Atta on 9/11; a sculpture by Alberto Giacometti.)
posted by stebulus at 7:58 AM on February 16, 2012

First answer was it! No clue why I could not find it. I gave the other "best answer" because I love the BFG and had forgotten it mentioned the witching hour, so thank you for the reminder! I'm going to watch the TED talk as well, thanks so much everyone!
posted by jitterbug perfume at 12:59 PM on February 16, 2012

FYI, in case it's useful, there's also a "witching hour" for babies that's around 6 p.m. Eastern time in the U.S. Not sure why, but apparently that's when babies get freaked out and inconsolable.
posted by limeonaire at 5:47 PM on February 16, 2012

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