Recommendation: The Naked Civil Servant

nick recommends…


As a story about the struggle to be uniquely yourself, this autobiography by gay icon Quentin Crisp has few rivals. Both sad and immensely funny, The Naked Civil Servant tells the story of Quentin’s refusal to hide his homosexuality and flamboyant lifestyle.

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Posted by on June 2nd, 2010 at 04:00 pm

Category: books, recommendations 6 comments »

6 Responses to “Recommendation: The Naked Civil Servant”

  1. Jessica

    An excellent, if dated book. Very revealing. Book also done as a film with John Hurt as Q. Crisp|%20B000062Y61|%20B000062Y60|%20B00000JQV3|%20B00004CJLZ&tag=imdb-adbox


  2. genderkid

    The film is on Youtube; here’s part 1:


  3. Nick

    And of course there’s ‘An englishman in New York’ about quentin’s later life.
    Again with John Hurt as Crisp.


  4. Gabriel

    The two films about Quentin’s life are also superb- played by the magnificent John Hurt.


  5. Ryan

    @Jessica – I was reading the other comments while I thought about what I wanted to say and “dated” is just the word I was looking for.

    Quentin said some things that really didn’t earn him any favours with the gay rights movement (I think this even gets mention in ‘An Englishman in New York’ – it’s been a while since I’ve seen the film) and reading his book, yeah, he does say some things that really grate on a modern reader. But the book is a relic of its time, ‘warts and all’.


  6. Jessica

    I entirely agree. It’s like reading about the civil rights movement in the early 1960’s. Times were a changing, but now things are different – notice I don’t say necessarily better.

    The first gay person I ever knew was my “Uncle Bill.” He was a friend of my father and mother. He and his partner (who lived together for more than 50 years) were both very nice people. I never asked him what it was like being gay in 1950 – I doubt he would have been able to tell me anything I could understand.

    There have always been gay people and there have always been transgender people, but the gay or transgender experience is very volatile and means different things at different times and in different places. The understanding and lessons you can learn may not really be relevant to your own life, except as allegory. Yes, there’s a lot in Quentin’s experience that is “dated” just as there was a lot of Malcom X’s experience that is “dated” today.

    It would be interesting to write a transgender history of Western civilization. Perhaps someday someone will. Maybe it might even be me.


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