The prevailing anthropological understanding of mimesis, this essay argues, is inadequate to the study of early modern cultural exchange, in particular of the ways in which literary cultures imagine themselves in the lexicons provided by other national traditions. The idiom of haunting–both in its psychoanalytic and in its Elizabethan and Jacobean iterations–provides a preferable account of the temporality of cultural exchange, of the conflicting sorts of imitation at issue in early modernity, of the uncertainty with which images are valued. The essay examines works by James I and by Dekker and his circle, focusing on the conflict between English responses to the battle of Lepanto and the Armada. The battling “ghosts” of these two events, one a conciliar victory led by the Spaniard John of Austria, the other an act of aggression ordered by his half-brother, Philip II, form the ground of the British cultural imaginary.

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