Did Gollum have a vitamin D deficiency? In the Medical Journal of Australia, Joseph A. Hopkinson and Nicholas S. Hopkinson posit that the Lord of the Rings saga could’ve been prevented had the inhabitants of Middle Earth just gotten a little more sunlight. “Systematic textual analysis of The Hobbit supports our initial hypothesis that the triumph of good over evil may be assisted to some extent by the poor diet and lack of sunlight experienced by the evil characters.”
According to a recent survey, Danes are the happiest people in the world. This came as a surprise, writes Mathilde Walter Clark, to most of her fellow Scandinavians, who know very well the unhappier elements of their daily lives. The problem, she suggests, is that words like “happiness,” “ambition” and “contentment” have subtly different meanings in different languages — in other words, happiness in Denmark isn’t the same thing as happiness in America. You could also read our own Emily St. John Mandel’s review of the Danish writer Jonas T. Bengtsson’s A Fairy Tale.
If you’ve finished winding your way through Elise Liu’s recommended New Yorker articles – which, as of this week, are free to be read online – you can start working your way through Longform’s roundup of their 25 favorite unlocked pieces. (Or you can go even bigger, thanks to The Awl.)
A literary event with an extremely star-studded guest list will be held next month for a good cause. The World’s Most Literary Rent Party Ever will raise money for author Charles Bock’s wife, who is receiving treatment for leukemia, and will include Jonathan Franzen, Jonathan Safran Foer, Mary Gaitskill, Joshua Ferris, Rivka Galchen, Amy Hempel, Nicole Krauss, Rick Moody, Richard Price, George Saunders, and quite a few others.
“To be able to sing under that kind of oppression I think, in a lot of ways, is the very essence of survival, of a people, of the ability to have to the hope to make something beautiful amongst so much wretchedness.” Tyehimba Jess, author of the fantastic new collection of poetry Olio, is interviewed over at The Literary Hub.