Introduction: ‘The Future Is What Artists Are’
In Oscar Wilde’s satiric political essay ‘The Soul of Man Under Socialism’, Wilde contends that humanity should always be future-oriented if it is to realise better realities and ways of being than those which are currently in existence: ‘[T]he past is of no importance. The present is of no importance. It is with the future that we have to deal. For the past is what man should not have been. The present is what man ought not to be. The future is what artists are’. According to Wilde, perpetually thinking in the future tense is the ideal state of being and artists are those that are always engaged in living in the temporal state of futurity. Wilde’s own life and work have gone on to testify to the validity of that assertion through the importance that they have held for future literatures and cultures throughout the world and, as this book shall argue, in Wilde’s native home of Ireland, this debt is very evident but in need of further explication.