‘Like every generation that preceded us, we have been endowed with a weak Messianic power’.2 The words of the Marxist critic Walter Benjamin will form the basis of this essay, in which I want to investigate and illuminate some of the ways in which the radical press of the nineteenth century tried to overcome two forms of temporal provisionality. The first, which is peculiar to oppositional political culture, is the ‘curse’, to borrow Kevin Gilmartin’s term, of exclusion, liminality, and imitation: the consciousness of radical ideologies that they are ultimately parasitical forces owing their existence to the dominant culture which they seek to join or conquer.3 As Iowerth Prothero puts it:
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