“‘Well, I never worked on the Almore case,’ Webber snapped. ‘I don’t know who stuck the first knife into Julius Caesar either. Stick to the point, can’t you?’”

This rebuke to Marlowe in Raymond Chandler’s The Lady in the Lake comes in one of the PI’s many confrontations with the police. It assumes that we all know Caesar was murdered in the Theater of Pompey by a band of conspirators, even if, like Captain Webber, we may not know who struck the first blow. Shakespeare has a lot to do with this familiarity, and he helped ensure that we know who struck the final blow, as the dictator dies with the last words, “Et tu, Brute! Then fall Caesar.” On Shakespeare’s reading, Brutus, “Caesar’s darling” who admires and likes Caesar personally,...


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