Diao Yuan Hu Ke’s Yuan zhu zhi yu xue chuang tan yi was one of the wenyan zhiguai fictions of short stories in Ming Dynasty. There were totally thirty stories in this book. The book was separated into two parts: the first part comprised sixteen stories and the second part included fourteen stories. Among these thirty stories, Tianfudianjulu and Dengyaoyehualu had lost their contents and only remained the titles. In the early history of Chinese literature and classical fictions, there was little discussion on Yuan zhu zhi yu xue chuang tan yi because it was a rare and uncommon fiction that few people would know.
Nevertheless, according to the information and materials we have now, after Yuan zhu zhi yu xue chuang tan yi was published, more than twenty-five stories were included in the books such as Hushicuibian, Guosetianxiang, Xiuguchunrong, Wanjingqinglin, Yanjubiji, Guang Yan Yi Bian, Xu Yan Yi Bian, History of Love, Gujinqingtanwanxuan, and You han bai bian, which showed that Yuan zhu zhi yu xue chuang tan yi was really a popular fiction during the time. However, the original version of Yuan zhu zhi yu xue chuang tan yi had long been disregarded and was lost for more than four hundred years. Not until the end of twentieth century was the book re-published and re-proofread by Jilin University Press and Zhonghua Bookstore and therefore the book could be continued passing to the generation again.
Thereafter, Zhonghua editorial department again tried to look for two lost stories, Tianfudianjulu and Dengyaoyehualu, inferring that “Toutaoji” in Guang Yan Yi Bian and “Dengshenyehua” in Gujinqingtanwanxuan should be the lost tales. For these reasons, when the book was republished again, the details of these two stories were given in Appendix at the end of the book. That is to say, readers now could see the complete thirty stories in Yuan zhu zhi yu xue chuang tan yi.
The book was written by the background of Jiaxing and through the people and things in Jiaxing, Diao Yuan Hu Ke in his book used metaphors and analogies to praise and criticize on the basis of indoctrination, exhortation, and moralizing. In other words, it was really a fiction filled with local color and promoting virtues and punishing evils.
There are six chapters in the thesis. The first chapter illustrates the motivation and research goals and reviews the related literary papers of Diao Yuan Hu Ke and Yuan zhu zhi yu xue chuang tan yi in order to see how critics has investigated it. The chapter also demonstrates the methods and outline of the thesis. Furthermore, through the identity of Diao Yuan Hu Ke, historical background, and the situation of how Yuan zhu zhi yu xue chuang tan yi is included in other books and the year of publication, the second chapter goes on to undertake a more complete research on and explanation for the book.
The third chapter mainly focuses on the analysis of the stories in Yuan zhu zhi yu xue chuang tan yi. According to the synopsis of stories, the book can be divided into three kinds of topics involving love, warning, and praise in songs. The fourth chapter looks into the details of characters shaping in Yuan zhu zhi yu xue chuang tan yi so as to summarize the typical characters that Diao Yuan Hu Ke aims to present and moreover addresses the narrative point of view, the performance of poetry, as well as the ideological contents of the topics that the book wishes to express for its readers.
The following chapter continues to discuss the situation of a historical transition that forms a bridge between earlier and later stages. It first investigates the origins of the stories in order to have the in-depth understanding of inheritance and innovation of the stories. Besides, the chapter also tried to compare the similarities and differences between the earlier and later development and extension of the stories. Then, the chapter goes on to see how Diao Yuan Hu Ke weeds through the old to bring forth the new based on the original stories of similar themes to present the different types of stories. After that, this chapter steps forward to do the research on the circumstances of how Yuan zhu zhi yu xue chuang tan yi could influence the writing of fictions in the late Ming and early Qing Dynasty.
In conclusion, according to the previous five chapters, the sixth chapter aims to summarize the results and contribution of this study, confirm the value and particularity of Yuan zhu zhi yu xue chuang tan yi, regard Yuan zhu zhi yu xue chuang tan yi as a link to carry on the past heritage and open up the future in the history of Chinese fictions, and moreover indicate its all-out effort to promote the local culture during the time.