This paper reconsiders the reception of Miyazawa Kenji’s (1896-1933) poetry collection, Haru to Shura (Spring and Asura, 1924) by examining the role of the “Proem,” or “Preface Poem” and the weight with which it has been used to interpret the anthology as a cohesive text, particularly in relation to the biographical life of its author. As one of two collections to be published during his lifetime, Haru to Shura is the only published text to include a preface written by Kenji himself. Therefore, it is considered to be crucial to understand methodology of Kenji’s literary production. This approach has been accepted among many scholars, including the editors of Kenji’s collective works anthology. However, much of the scholarship surrounding Haru to Shura regard Kenji’s “proem” as an assertion of his authority, subsequently reading the poems within it as marked by a specific purpose, thereby limiting how Haru to Shura, and Kenji’s literary anthology, are interpreted.
This paper seeks to critically examine the discourse surrounding Kenji’s “Proem” and how it informs interpretations of Kenji’s literature and thought. Specifically, I examine the role of the zenshū, or collected works, in constructing and propagating the persona of Miyazawa Kenji and how paratextual collaborations between Miyazawa Kenji and his editors inform reader reception and sustained literary discourse.