“This Image of Themselves”: (Re)Discovering the Merlion’s Liminality


  • Ian Chung, Singapore


The publication by Singaporean small press Firstfruits Publications of Reflecting on the Merlion in 2009 marked a consolidation of the canon of Merlion poetry in Singapore. Apart from inspiring the work gathered in this anthology, Edwin Thumboo’s “Ulysses by the Merlion†has also attracted both praise and criticism for its engagement with the Merlion. This essay seeks to establish a reading of Thumboo’s poem using the concept of liminality, one that has previously been given little attention in the critical literature on the poem, despite being embedded in the text itself. It also argues that by ignoring this concept, the Merlion poems by Lee Tzu Pheng and Alfian Sa’at that followed after Thumboo’s have had the unfortunate effect of forcing the discourse surrounding the Merlion into a dead end.


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Author Biography

Ian Chung, Singapore

Ian Chung is a graduate of the Warwick Writing Programme. His work has appeared in Quarterly Literary Review Singapore, The Cadaverine, The Misfit Quarterly and Unthology No. 3 (Unthank Books, 2012), among others. He reviews for Rum & Reviews Magazine, Sabotage Reviews, Sidekick Books and The Cadaverine, where he is also Fiction Editor. He is the founder of Eunoia Review, an online literary journal that publishes two new pieces of work daily.




How to Cite

Chung, Singapore, I. (2013). “This Image of Themselves”: (Re)Discovering the Merlion’s Liminality. Asiatic: IIUM Journal of English Language and Literature, 7(2), 245–263. Retrieved from https://journals.iium.edu.my/asiatic/index.php/ajell/article/view/375



Articles on Edwin Thumboo