Currently unavailable.
We don't know when or if this item will be back in stock.
Have one to sell?
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more

The Naked Civil Servant

4.5 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews

See all formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price
New from Used from
Currently unavailable. We don't know when or if this item will be back in stock.
Customers also viewed these available items
click to open popover

Special Offers and Product Promotions

Enter your mobile number below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
Getting the download link through email is temporarily not available. Please check back later.

  • Apple
  • Android
  • Windows Phone

To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.




Product details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: New American Library (Mar. 1983)
  • ISBN-10: 9993739456
  • ISBN-13: 978-9993739456
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
Share your thoughts with other customers

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
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The book is also a valuble historical document shedding light on the blacked-out seedy streets of wartime Soho.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?
Comment 17 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
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.
Comment 5 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
By Mrs. K. A. Wheatley TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 25 Jun. 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've been meaning to read this book for years, and putting it off for fear it would disappoint.

It didn't.

It's fresh and funny and catty. Despite it reading more like a social history book in places, Crisp is never dull and his prose shimmers on the page and gives a touch of tawdry magic to everything he casts his eye and pen upon. I suspect he would have been an utter nightmare to have known in real life. There are times in the book I found him frustrating and just wanted to slap him, but goodness, when the muse is upon him he can really make you laugh, and some of his lines are absolute gems. I particularly liked his views on Morris Dancing.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is quite simply a wonderful book, written by an extraordinary man. What makes it such a good read is its mixture of wit on the one hand and serious, even bitter, reflection on the other. On the witty side there are some hilarious episodes, not least of which is his appearance before an army medical board. But at the sane time there is a very sad and even angry aspect to his writing. This is summed up at the end of the book when he says that no one has ever loved him and he, in fact, has never loved anybody. At some level he also regarded himself as a failure. It is a thoroughly entertaining book but also a very thought provoking one. Highly recommended.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
By Sarah Tipper TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 29 Dec. 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Crisp’s writing is funny, clever and endearing. It seems he was a very gentle and inward looking man, with a core of strength, being himself as hard as he could, but without treading on anyone’s toes. It’s shocking to read now how much fear and harassment that being homosexual used to involve. You don’t need to be gay to enjoy this book, it’s about an individual who happens to be but he is obviously much more besides.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Paperback
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.
Comment 9 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Paperback
Crisp is obviously eloquent and I found the book easy to read and entertaining, though turgid in places. His cynicism and view of the homosexuals lot in life was depressing; he seemed to speak in an authoratative manner based only on opinion and his perception of the world around him. I found him a depressing and rather unpleasant character - however, I also thought him incredibly brave and stong-willed. To have made a conscious decision to live his life the way he wanted to all those years ago, to have faced such hatred, aggression and rejection suggests an amazing strength of character and determination to be. As a character I found little to like, as a human being I was full of admiration.
Comment 6 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Paperback
My dislike of effeminates means that I found ‘stately homo’ Crisp distasteful until I was old enough to appreciate his savage wit and wisdom.

In 1931, gay liberation was not a movement—it was simply unthinkable. But in that year, Quentin Crisp made the courageous decision to "come out" as a homosexual. This exhibitionist with the henna-dyed hair was harrassed, ridiculed and beaten. Nevertheless, he claimed his right to be himself—whatever the consequences. The Naked Civil Servant is both a comic masterpiece and a unique testament to the resilience of the human spirit.

Crisp was born in 1908, and while he covers his early years with insight and wit (he declares that those who are thought witty are those who laugh and listen politely to others) the story really gets going when he moves to London.

By this time, Crisp has accepted that he is a homosexual and has decided to confront the world with his existence instead of shading himself in public, his head down. He slathers his face with make-up, styles his hair in dramatic waves and wears flowing, feminine fashions. He monitors every step, one foot precisely in front of the other.

Thus he sets out in 1930’s London, often drawing crowds of people who follow him hurling insults, catcalls and rocks. He is often attacked, and relates in a dispassionate voice the techniques he used to get out of trouble, when possible. Of course, it was often not possible. Several times he is beaten, he often fears for his life and danger is ever-present. His presence inside large buildings would often cause a tumult and shopping is an obstacle course of insults and rude clerks.

But still, he often finds work – in commercial art, publishing houses and even an engineering firm.
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse

Look for similar items by category


Feedback