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The Confessions of Felix Krull, Confidence Man (20th Century Classics)

3.88  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,202 Ratings  ·  96 Reviews
Thomas Mann's final novel recounts the strange and entranced career of the gifted swindler, Felix Krull, through his childhood and early manhood. Krull is a man unhampered by moral precepts that govern the conduct of ordinary mortals, and this natural lack of scruple, coupled with his formidable mental and physical endowments, enables him to develop the arts of subterfuge ...more
347 pages
Published (first published 1954)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jul 04, 2014 Elena rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In writing Felix Krull, I wonder if Thomas Mann was trying to prove that after all his heavy-duty works he could still turn out a romantic comedy, although not the ordinary kind. He's still Thomas Mann. Magic Mountain is overshadowed by the inevitable coming of World War I, Doktor Faustus directly confronts the evils of World War II. Felix Krull takes place in 1895, a time when no one (well, no one but people like Bertha von Suttner), had any inkling of the imminent tragedies of the 20th century ...more
Sep 25, 2007 Thom rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people uncomfortable with just being.
Upon reading Felix Krull I have determined that I do not know as much about nothing as I thought I did. Clearly Thomas Mann has much more of a grasp on it than me. After reading the last lines of this novel I was left with the distinct feeling of just having lost something valuable, but not knowing quite what. I think that my lost feeling might be attributed to the fact that the writing of Thomas Mann is confounding, and at least in the case of Felix Krull is dumbfounding. I think that the book ...more
Jul 05, 2015 Steven rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: home-inventory
Know that these are three loving stars, given out of respect for what the novel accomplishes even though it's incomplete and, most of the time, aimless and wandering.

Confessions of Felix Krull is Thomas Mann's attempt at the picaresque, and Krull is something of a mix between Don Quixote and Ignatius J. Reilly from A Confederacy of Dunces. Parts of the novel are laugh-out-loud funny--not a gut reaction I've ever had to a Mann novel. I'm thinking in particular of a scene that could have been cut
I recently reread Confessions of Felix Krull, Confidence Man (The Early Years), Thomas Mann's last novel and a comic masterpiece. Felix Krull's confessions are filled with humorous episodes worthy of the Mann's story-telling mastery. Mann based the novel on an expanded version of a story he had written in 1911 and he managed to finish, and publish part one of the Confessions of Felix Krull, but due to his death in 1955 the saga of the morally flexible and irresistible conman, Felix, remained unf ...more
Feb 15, 2008 George rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: German literature fans
Who knew the man who wrote Magic Mountain and Death in Venice might actually have a sense of humor? I orginally read this in college while doing a course on Hesse and Mann. After many grueling hours pushing complex sentence structures up Magic Mountain, this came as quite a shock. It was as if it were written by a completely different Mann. This is probably the funniest book I've ever read out of Germany. I particularly liked watching Felix worm his way out of the German draft and trying to pass ...more
Jun 02, 2013 Kevin rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
WARNING: This book review contains spoilers.

I would not recommend the book Confessions of Felix Krull by Thomas Mann to anyone. I can honestly say it was one of the worst books I have ever read.

The book is basically about a pretty boy who gets everything he wants in life. I did enjoy the book at first, but as the story progressed it became less believable and more annoying. Felix Krull, the main character and narrator, grew up in Germany. As a child, when Felix didn’t want to go to school he wou
Justin Evans
Apr 03, 2016 Justin Evans rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
A friend's review of this is: great first half, dull second half. My review is the exact opposite, which suggests that this is just about taste. The first half, for me, was a little too cutesy with the symbolism, as Krull discovers how much he enjoys acting, impersonating, and being praised for his beauty. Well done, but also (for me) hampered by the impossibility of doing anything new with the first part of life-stories. You'll be surprised to learn that Felix has a family, there is a crisis, h ...more
Marcia Letaw
Feb 21, 2016 Marcia Letaw rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nobel-laureates, 2016
Thanks to Horst Adler for suggesting this great book, I am no longer afraid of reading Thomas Mann! There may even come a day when I revisit The Magic Mountain, a guilt book from bygone days. Having just finished Confessions of Felix Krull, Confidence Man, my thoughts are still swirling; this book was certainly not what I expected, Felix Krull himself was not what I expected; in fact: It is not a book about a con man! Certainly, Felix is a man who has a talent for moving convincingly between per ...more
Erik Graff
Aug 24, 2011 Erik Graff rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Mann fans
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: literature
I read this book in Tonsberg, Norway while visiting Mother's sister Babs' family there. Specifically, I recall reading it in their yard during breaks while cutting their enormous lawn and while on the tor overlooking the mid-sized town while visiting the remains of a viking longhouse there.

1978 was the year I finished the M.Div. at Union Theological Seminary in New York. Mother had visited early that spring, enroute home to Norway after the failure of her second marriage, and had invited me to c
John Purcell
Jun 29, 2010 John Purcell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Clever People Who Like A Laugh
Recommended to John by: Posterity
This is a novel Thomas Mann began when a young man and finished when an old man. He said he didn't have the strength needed to keep up the tone of the novel when he was young. When you read this strange, delightful, exciting novel you'll know what he meant.

Felix Krull, the hero/villain, is exuberant and fantastical and irrepressible. To think up such a character requires youth - to create such a being requires patience, persistence, knowledge, energy and incredible skill and competence, in shor
Dec 08, 2013 Jeff rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I know Mann is very much a respected guy, I think I've chosen the wrong book of his to read first.

It's amazing how little actually happens in this book, I was expecting about a thousand instances of globetrotting con-artistry, but, what can I say, not a whole lot happens.

I am afraid it sticks out like a sore thumb that this work was interrupted in progress and was slated to be the first in a series of books.

Some long, useless digressions - Mann went into an absurd amount of detail on Krull's tho
Boria Sax
May 26, 2014 Boria Sax rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
After a lifetime spent largely in writing rather ponderous novels, Thomas Mann decided to defy expectations in his last book, which is, despite showing a certain amount of craft, essentially the sort of soft-core pornography that is usually written under pseudonyms and sold in drug stores. Perhaps he wished to show people that he was not a snob,and he may, after finishing Doctor Faustus have found this sort of writing relaxing. He no doubt thought, correctly, that, given his reputation, many cri ...more
Bogdan Rat
The first part of the book, I have to be honest, is boring...I almost gave up on it. What kept me going? I've enjoyed all of Mann's books so far, he's my favorite writer at the moment and this was his final novel, so I was really curious about his approach on it. I struggled for a few more pages and then, suddenly, something happend. I don't know exactly what, but it did. I started to like this book and it's initial display of events from the first part, wich I still believe what they were quite ...more
Robert Wechsler
Sep 09, 2013 Robert Wechsler rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: german-lit
The first half of this novel is a dramatic monologue almost as good as Mann’s Doctor Faustus (1947), which is one of the greatest ever written. Felix Krull is the very self-reflective memoir of a self-confessed conman that is a great work of self-justification more than a revelation of the makings of a conman (although it is that, too).

Then suddenly the novel becomes plot-oriented. Felix’s attention moves from himself to the details of the world he is living in, the details that appeal to him, b
Daniel St-Jean
Aug 02, 2015 Daniel St-Jean rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This was one of the most pompous, superficial and uninteresting books I have ever come across. I understand that this was one of Thomas Mann's uncompleted works, but this should have never saw the face of publishing. The characters are dull, the plot laughable and the writing detached and forced. Do not even bother, it is not worth the trouble.
Aug 05, 2015 Kat rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Outstanding play with the german language imo- so light, so elegant...It felt much less heady then other works by him, which was a nice change. For me, the story was secondary, it was the way he used the language that I truly enjoyed.

Seeing this on goodreads reminded me that I should read more by Thomas Mann.
Jan 05, 2016 Rivca rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Yes
I read this book when I was 18 years old and it is still very clear on my memory. It is an amazing book for all ages. But it should be mandatory for people who are starting out their life journey.
Robert Zaslavsky
There is brilliant writing here, but the formal incompleteness and the failure to provide the later years leaves one with a sense of frustration. The sobriquet "confidence man" is a bit misleading, especially when one compares Felix Krull with the protagonist of Melville's "The Confidence Man: His Masquerade," which is also formally incomplete, but in a way that is satisfyingly provocative, since the confidence man of the title is seen in full maturity and efficacity in a richly and fully drawn ...more
Aug 04, 2014 Grigory rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Well i get that this is a kind of picaresque novel and that Mann on purpose imitates style of previous centuries (XVIII or even XVII). It's silly to blame Felix Krull for talking like a pompous douche, that's kind of the main purpose of the novel.

Having said all that, the book is too gay anyways

'nuff said
Sep 22, 2014 lärm rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
According to the publisher, this is a comical book about a clever con man.
I found the book not comical at all, (only the military examination put a smile on my face), and as far as con tricks go, if you leave out plain luck, like a wealthy woman who gets her kicks from being robbed, even my six year old son can do better. Still, he gets to kiss the daughter and shag the mother, which is an achievement if you ask me.
It took Mann 40 years to complete this book, which is only part one of a series t
Apr 22, 2011 Aviva rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
It's not often that I just flip through the last couple chapters of a book. But in this case I did and I don't feel bad about it. There were some interesting parts but the narrator was so full of himself that the language just annoyed me most of the time.
Luka Fadiurashvili
ვისაც თომას მანის შემოქმედებიდან არაფერი გაქვთ წაკითხული, მაშინ ამ წიგნისგან დროებით თავი შორს დაიჭირეთ!! ალბათ ყველაზე სუსტი ნაწარმოებია რაც კი ამ კაცს აქვს დაწერილი. არადა თემა თითქოს კარგია, ჟანრი იშვიათი – პიკარესკული რომანი. მაგრამ ალბათ დრომ დიდი კვალი დაამჩნია წიგნს( ავტორი რამდენიმე ათეული წელი მუშაობდა მასზე). მოკლედ ვერავის ვურჩევ წაიკითხოს.. ყოველ შემთხვევაში თუ თომას მანის გაცნობა გინდათ სხვა ნებისმიერი აიღეთ, მაგრამ ამით არ დაიწყოთ, რადგან ისეთ შთაბეჭდილებას დაგიტოვებთ, თითქოს ერთი ...more
Jacques le fataliste et son maître
Una specie di Bel Ami, ma infinitamente più fatuo, più simpatico, più innocente: simile all’acqua, prende ogni forma che gli capita.
Felix Krull pare uno di quegli dèi burloni e mascalzoni che si trovano in tante mitologie.
3.5 stars. Definitely a different read than Magic Mountain, and bizarrely entertaining considering it's 400 pages of pretentious first person prattle from an insufferable jackass.
Jul 04, 2007 Sophie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A great portrait of a true rogue. I can't understand why hollywood hasn't snatched it up and made it into a movie, but I'm glad it slipped under their radar.
Edward Jawer
Thomas Mann is widely considered as one of the great novelists of our time, having authored not one, but several novels considered masterpieces of fiction.

Few however are aware that he could also write comedy, and "The Confessions of Felix Krull, Confidence Man", is one of his best examples of a truly fun story. Easily readable, short (compared to the other tomes), and a wonderful example of a great writer, enjoying himself.

For yet another side of the man, "The Holy Sinner", is as dark and bitte
Jun 10, 2010 Joe rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Confessions of Felix Krull is an unfinished novel. I had read one other such book, Kafka's The Trial. The Trial, however, is unfinished in that it is not clear exactly what order the chapters should be in and whether there are missing or excess pieces of the novel. This Mann book is unfinished in that the story does not seem to come close to its full narrative extent. For this reason, reviewing it is more difficult than usual. Inevitably the reader is left craving more, especially since the nove ...more
M.R. Dowsing
Apr 16, 2013 M.R. Dowsing rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I hadn't read any Thomas Mann since I had to do 'Death In Venice' at university, a book I didn't much care for at the time. I've always had a weakness for confessional narratives though, so thought I'd give this one a go. Krull is a man who believes himself superior to others, one of those scoundrelly characters who works his way up in society through deceit, but it's somehow impossible not to like him, even though you know you probably shouldn't.

I must admit it's a little hard to see exactly w
Apr 27, 2012 Wendy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Election year seemed like a good time to reread Mann's 1920s account of a man who exploits others' readiness to be dazzled, flattered, and deceived (and to forget, as one of our politicians is openly counting on?). I'd forgotten that the book also dwells for some time on visits to Lisbon's natural history museum - perhaps drawing a parallel between ways of experiencing both museums and other social contexts. Museum friends might be amused by Krull's reflection that "That is how it is in museums: ...more
Jeremy Liebster
May 26, 2011 Jeremy Liebster rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Really disappointing. I actually found it extraordinary that this was Thomas Mann's last book as it seems to lack all the subtlety of his previous works.

Quick summary - a young man who is supremely good looking, charming and witty captivates absolutely everyone he meets, generally within minutes. Nothing else happens. He is never doubted, he is never disliked and every woman falls in love with him. It is boring and the character of the narrator is simply not endearing enough for us to have to s
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Goodreads Librari...: Change several things 4 19 Jan 22, 2016 08:34AM  
Goodreads Librari...: main author needed 4 20 Jun 29, 2015 04:00AM  
Madison Mega-Mara...: Confessions of Felix Krull 2 3 Jan 16, 2012 06:55PM  
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

Thomas Mann was a German novelist, short story writer, social critic, philanthropist, essayist, and 1929 Nobel Prize laureate, known for his series of highly symbolic and ironic epic novels and novellas, noted for their insight into the psychology of the artist and the intel
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“Porque quien tiene confianza en sí mismo practica lo más difícil para estar mejor preparado en lo fácil,” 0 likes
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