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Birch, Cyril (1954) "Ku chin hsiao shuo": A critical examination. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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The thesis is arranged in three parts. Part One is a survey of the known facts concerning the Ku chin hsiao shuo collection and its compiler, Feng Meng-lung. The intention in Part Two is to further knowledge of the history of colloquial Chinese fiction. Evidence is assembled anti evaluated which relates to the probable periods of composition of the various stories, and to the extent to which they were rexised for publication in the collection. On the basis of the evidence examined, distinctions are made between stories belonging to an oral tradition and originating in the Sung period; stories written or re-written during the Ming period in pursuance of the same tradition; and stories which have closer affinities with the purely written genres. The functions of the editor of the collection are held to have consisted of arrangement and commentary rather than of large-scale revision. Part Two concludes with a detailed description of the hua-pen story as a literary genre. In The third and major part of the thesis, the stories are classified according to subject-matter and criticized individually and in detail. Wherever possible, a description is given of the raw material used by the unknown author. Techniques are analyzed, and the stories evaluated and related to the main branches of Chinese fiction. It is shown that the stories of the highest merit are in general those of the greatest realism, and in particular those of the love and crime groups. Almost all the heroic stories are closely based on fact; they have their own conventions and points of merit. The supernatural is used, as a rule, for worthier ends than mere spine-chilling. In all cases where earlier versions exist, the stories of the collection represent an advance in the art of fiction.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2018 15:18

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