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The Naked Civil Servant (Flamingo) [Paperback]

Quentin Crisp
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
Price: £8.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £10. Details
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Book Description

17 Jun 1996 Flamingo
In this autobiography, Quentin Crisp describes his unhappy childhood and the stresses of adolescence that led him to London. There in bedsits and cafes he found a world of brutality and comedy, of shortlived jobs and precarious relationships. All of which he faced with humour and intelligence.

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The Naked Civil Servant (Flamingo) + The Naked Civil Servant [1975]  [DVD]
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Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Flamingo; New Ed edition (17 Jun 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0006540449
  • ISBN-13: 978-0006540441
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 19.8 x 1.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 336,199 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


‘A work of great wit, intelligence and sensitivity.’ Washington Post Book World

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Back Cover

Quentin Crisp has been described as one of England’s works of art. In this funny, moving account of his outrageous youth, he describes his unhappy childhood and the stresses of adolescence which led him to London. There, in bedsitting rooms and cafés, he found a world of brutality and comedy, of short-lived jobs and precarious relationships. It was a life he faced with courage, humour and intelligence.

‘Brilliant, full of sardonic humour with sharp spurts of wit’

‘Mr Crisp states his alarming case so wittily and gracefully… The steady chirrup of Crisperanto provides shrewd comments on queers’ molls and, in particular, an unforgettable account of the American invasion of wartime London – ‘Never in the history of sex was so much offered by so many to so few.’ Truly riotous.’
PAUL BAILEY, 'Observer'

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First Sentence
From the dawn of my history I was so disfigured by the characteristics of a certain kind of homosexual person that, when I grew up, I realized that I could not ignore my predicament. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Charming Man 27 Sep 2004
By rp
Most autobiographies are too long, too dull and too self-congratulatory. Quentin Crisp's The Naked Civil Servent isn't. Crisp comes across as completely charming: a lovely, witty man, quick to laugh at himself, ready to listen to others.
He is full of eccentricities aside from the obvious - his decision to promote his homosexuality in a time when such an activity was unheard of, by his wearing makeup/dying his hair with henna - including never cleaning his flat ("after the first year the dust really doesn't get any worse") and never reading any books, ("books are for writing, not for reading" - actually a quote from another book of his).
He is endlessly quotable and very funny.
Yet for all the humour the tone of this book is sad. Crisp was endlessly abused, beaten-up and victimised because of his appearance.
The book is also a valuble historical document shedding light on the blacked-out seedy streets of wartime Soho.
And what exactly is a naked civil servent? You'll have to read it to find out, won't you?
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 20th Century England - The Outsider's Guide 3 May 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
It's extraordinary to think that this autobiography, in which Mr Crisp describes his first 60-odd years, should now appear as almost an introduction to his life. This book and the subsequent film undoubtedly ignited his fame but it was the next 30 years that would make him a star.

Intriguing from the start, we learn his most intimate details but not his real name. His passage through the 20th century reveals a view of England only an outsider could describe. In amongst the personal experiences we see the real nature of society and how its behaviour changes as a result of wartime bombing and post-war peace. How the majority revile him and how certain individuals (not necessarily gay) do not. It is a life affirming joy to learn that some not only accepted him as he was but also celebrated his commitment - even in those dark and uninformed days.

I suppose this book unwittingly questions the notion of normalcy and how, whilst many seek to follow the path prescribed, the real nature of human beings and how they respond to the unusual is not set in stone.

Nevertheless it does describe an eventual period of self-enforced penury in which he is frightened to leave his room. The final parts end quite bitterly as he considers how his inclinations and behaviour have led him to waste his life. But of course he didn't and the next chapter of his story was to turn this assumption upside down.

I'm making this book sound rather dour and such an account in anyone else's hands would be a drab thing indeed. No, Quentin Crisp was a highly intelligent and joyously articulate man and his writings reflect this. His views often seem to contradict accepted beliefs but he does so in a manner that suggests considered thought with the benefit of high intellect.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Book 16 Jan 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
After reading so many positive reviews about The Naked Civil Servant on Amazon i bought a copy,i wont talk about the book as the other reviews have said everything,all i will say is that once i opened the first page i found that i couldnt put the book down,i absolutely loved it,and i personally think that this is a book that everybody should read before they leave this mortal coil.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Englishman in the Soho 3 Sep 2002
By bagoas
This is the book that made Quentin Crisp famous (and infamous) and that gave him the title of England's Stately Homo. Quentin was an out homosexual even before the word 'out' was coined, and this is an ironic, and most of the times sarcastic, auto-biography on being a notorious effeminate man in the pre-70 "victorian" London days. Quentin's self-derogatory humour is, of course, only a way of criticising everyone and everything around him and getting away with it. In a Wilde kind of way this is a very very funny book, full of quotable material.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Keyne Readers' Review 7 Sep 2010
The autobiographical sketch by Quentin Crisp was selected by our Book Group because at first glance it seemed an unexpected and amusing look on life and a book that we had heard about through the author's notoriety in the media ( in the 1960s and later ) and about which we felt we would like to form our own opinions. The resulting opinions tended, sadly, to be somewhat negative. The narrative was considered repetitive, chronologically confusing and in general a dismal and depressing tale. One reader described it as a strange mix of pride in his sexuality and self loathing. However some readers did feel Crisp's story was more one of courage against the odds, and that the tone was lifted with his many quips and quirky insights. Perhaps Crisp's skills as an entertainer, turning humiliating incidents into droll stories, had been enhanced over the years as he `sang for his supper' in the bars of Soho?

It was argued that Crisp had good reasons for offering muddled chronology and failing to mention the names of his acquaintances because his homosexual lifestyle had been illegal and specifics could have compromised his friends and supporters. It was also argued that it was an important text because it was published immediately after the Decriminalization of Male Homosexuality Act went through parliament in 1967 and represented a `scream from Soho' telling just how it had felt to be a person who could not feel remotely safe anywhere but in a few streets in Central London. Crisp arguably writes `a survivor account' that is still worth reading, whatever its failings are in organisation and precision, because it represents the life of one forced to be a social fugitive - an outcast - banished from ordinary life, mobbed even in the metropolis, just because he dyed his hair and wore high heels.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read
A reread for me, a great read.
Published 3 days ago by Peter Hart
5.0 out of 5 stars Good read
I have seen the film years ago so decided to buy the book thinking there's always more details & info in a book, nope. Film is better.
Published 9 months ago by martin overfield
5.0 out of 5 stars Great !
I love this book mainly because Crisp's use of English is so refreshingly humorous.
He had a difficult start but his self deprecating, sardonic humour got him through.
Published 11 months ago by Patricia Scott
4.0 out of 5 stars The book is in excellent condition
Have been meaning to read this book for years. Received it on Monday & have nearly read it. Quentin Crisp was obviously a very complex person who was born at the wrong time. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Robert Preece
5.0 out of 5 stars A great read!!!
In the middle of it and can't put it down!!! An interesting insite into the 'old days' and being Gay.People's attitudes never cease to amaze me!
Published 18 months ago by leoandrew
5.0 out of 5 stars audiobook
Having read the book years ago and enjoyed very much, I thought it would be even more to inspiring to hear the author telling his story, I was not disapointed. Read more
Published on 31 May 2012 by marina
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book, Lovely Man
I learn't alot about Quentin Crisp in this book.

Very interesting character, not many around like him anymore.

Also very sad.
Published on 26 May 2011 by C. Belshaw
4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant servant is hurt
Having read the autobiography of the The Naked Civil Servant I thought the DVD brought so much more depth and humour to the story. Read more
Published on 18 Feb 2011 by studyfreak
3.0 out of 5 stars A piece of gay history
Crisp is obviously eloquent and I found the book easy to read and entertaining, though turgid in places. Read more
Published on 2 Sep 2009 by richie
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