I’ve always enjoyed literary criticism which applies specialized knowledge in a scientific or technical domain to further elucidate a literary work. My favorite in this vein is Herbert F. Smith’s 1965 classic, “Melville’s Master in Chancery and His Recalcitrant Clerk.”
I recently found a new one: “Don Quixote’s Countenance Before and After Losing His Teeth,” from the February 2009 issue of the Journal of Dental Research.
Here’s the argument in a nutshell:
We must ask ourselves why Don Quixote had a permanently sad expression on his face. Was it hunger, a constant companion of the gentleman throughout his adventures? Was it pain?
As we will attempt to show, it was the lack of molars and incisors.