The Ching-hua yüan, the work of vernacular fiction by Li ju-chen (ca. 1763–1830) shows remarkable diversity in both narrative content and purpose. Critics have observed that it is encyclopedic in scope, and suggested that it reflects the wide range of interests and activities prevalent among scholars in early nineteenth- century China. The author's intention has been variously interpreted as private entertainment, display of erudition, or social criticism.

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