Gregory Nalpon’s “The Rose and the Silver Key”: A Historicist Reading


  • Angus Whitehead, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore


Gregory Nalpon, while today a virtually forgotten Singaporean writer, represents one of the most unique, imaginative and colourful voices in Singapore fiction, c. 1960-80. This paper focusses on Nalpon’s most well-known, and perhaps most accomplished short story, “The Rose and the Silver Key.†By subjecting Nalpon’s story to a careful historicist reading I suggest that the distinctive qualities of “The Rose and the Silver Key†derive from both the specific moment and the normally marginalised figures represented, as well as Nalpon’s fairly unique stance, in the Singapore as Indian, trades unionist and “gentleman of leisure.†At the same time this historicist reading complements Frank Brennan’s earlier benevolent reading, revealing “The Rose and the Silver Key†as mediated and often beguilingly ambiguous social critique of the colonial city c. 1960 and the nation state c. 1978.


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Author Biography

Angus Whitehead, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

Angus Whitehead is an Assistant Professor at the National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. He has published a number of papers, reviews and interviews related to literature in Singapore, and is currently editing collections of short stories by Arthur Yap and local trade unionist and journalist, Gregory Nalpon (1938-1978), the latter to be published in October 2013. A William Blake specialist, he is co-editor of a collection of essays, Re-envisioning Blake (2012).  


How to Cite

Whitehead, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, A. (2014). Gregory Nalpon’s “The Rose and the Silver Key”: A Historicist Reading. Asiatic: IIUM Journal of English Language and Literature, 7(1), 101–120. Retrieved from