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Mike M writes:
Originally I flirted privately with the idea that Kim the photographer/
blackmailer was based on an undercook that Vere Earl of Oxford had run
through with his sword for (possibly) spying, Kim being a "kitchen boy"
(undercook). That idea was wrong. Kim Beauharnais is based on
We know that Philip Sidney and his clan are ubiquitous in Ada. Vere
frequently present. Ben Jonson (as Ben Wright the coachman) likewise.
The thought occurred to me: so where is Marlowe?
At least four times Kim is described as the "kitchen boy". "Kit" is
diminutive for Christopher, hence 'kit-chen'. To emphasize the point,
Nabokov on one further occasion calls him "kitchen Kim".
Marlowe was known to have been involved in some capacity with
espionage. His roommate Kyd was tortured to obtain evidence against
Marlowe. His killer, Frizer, was working for Walsingham, Queen
Elizabeth's head of intelligence. According to Hamlet, plays were the
"abstract and brief chronicles of the times"; perhaps photographs were
their equivalent, 300 years later.
I also wonder whether Raymond Chandler's Marlowe figures in this, since
in The Big Sleep the private eye, Philip Marlowe (conflation of Sidney
& Kit Marlowe?) works for General Sternwood, whose daughter Carmen
is being blackmailed.
Anyway, in 2. 11, we learn in a long parenthesis about Black Miller,
who died shortly before February 1893, at which time two " less
successful blackmailers were
waiting in the wings", one of whom was Kim, carried out of his cottage
"with one eye hanging on a red thread, and the other drowned in its
blood". Christopher Marlowe was killed by being stabbed in the eye.
However, Kim did not die, but was kept by Van "safe and snug" in a Home
for Disabled Professional People. Of course there are suspicions that
Marlowe didn't die, but was resuscitated as 'Shakespeare'. "Snug" might
allude to the tavern where Marlowe was killed, since pubs sometimes had
a "snug bar".
A few weeks ago I mentioned that in Ada you need at times to deduct 300
years, e.g. Dan Veen's matrimonial travails (1872 = 1572, 1876= 1576),
Sidney and Vere with Anne Cecil. This applies also with Kim, who was
wounded in the eye in 1893; Marlowe was killed in 1593. Amazing, isn't
(Incidentally, re Jonson as the coachman Ben Wright: originally I
guessed at it via Ben (play)-Wright, then discovered that this coachman
was a "poet in his own right" (Darkbloom). Having looked yesterday in
John Aubrey's 'Brief Lives', I read that an actor called Lacy said that
Jonson used to wear a coat "like a coachman's coat, with slits under
the armpit". So that's a bit more corroboration).