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

3.88 of 5 stars 3.88  ·  rating details  ·  1,863 ratings  ·  82 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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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 4 of 5 stars  ·  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
Feb 15, 2008 George rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  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
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
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
Erik Graff
Aug 24, 2011 Erik Graff rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  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 5 of 5 stars  ·  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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
Robert Wechsler
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
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
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
Kristopher Jansma
I have to say I was warned, but this book was a bit of a disappointment. It actually comes with a subtitle, "The Early Years" which might have tipped me off as well. The book takes you through the origins of this self-professed conman, laying out in great and interesting detail his childhood fascination with acting, pretending to be sick to avoid school, lying to get out of military service, stealing to get ahead in the hotel industry... all of which is great, provided it is laying the groundwor ...more
Marco Dugini
E' un vero peccato che questo libro sia rimasto incompiuto a causa della morte dell'autore e che dunque abbiamo solo la prima parte di quella che sarebbe stata la ben più lunga epopea di Felix Krull, un "imbroglione" che per gioco assume - scambiandola - una diversa identità all'interno dell'alta borghesia, non per l'atto di truffare in sé, ma per misurare la propria capacità innata di mascherarsi e avere differenti personalità, capacità di cui il protagonista è sempre stato auto-convinto fin da ...more
Wie wir alle wissen, sind Bücher die man in der Schule lesen muss, meistens kompliziert und total langweilig. Grad für die Personen, die alte Literatur einfach nicht leiden können. Dazu gehöre teilweise auch dazu. Doch bei Felix Krull ist das was anderes.
Wieder mussten wir ein Buch lesen und wieder habe ich es nicht getan, jedoch dieses Buch wollte ich nach der deutsch Klausur komischerweise lesen, weil sie interessanter wurde für mich. Thomas Mann hat das Buch sehr kompless verfasst und erzählt
I just pulled this book out of the blue. I confess to not reading any of Mann's works because I thought they'd be too dense. Surely not this one. The title tells the story but Felix never allows a moment to pass without reminding the reader of what he believes is his extraordinary intelligence. The protagonist is so deluded as to make the story really funny. I chuckled my way through the tale.
Paul Jellinek
Thomas Mann's last novel, these "confessions" start out strong, with a good deal of humor, but bog down toward the end, maybe because Mann's health was failing. Perhaps if he had lived to finish it, he would have edited out or rewritten some of the more tedious sections.
Novela inconclusa, me deja con ganas de leer mas de este personaje, no quedo satisfecho con el final y eso no lo puedo disculpar tan fácilmente. De lectura fácil, quizás ese es su gran pecado, muestra el desarrollo de un joven y su enfrentamiento ante realidades que la juventud se encarga de manifestar.
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Eerst gelezen in Nederlandse vertaling. Prima boek. Dan kwam de dag dat ik een Duitse paperback tegenkwam.
"Effe" in de originele taal lezen, dacht ik in mijn jeugdige overmoed :)
Maar,maar,maar, die Duitse volzinnen zijn zo grundlich, ze nemen een zachte aanloop,kabbelen even naar links, vervolgens even naar rechts, weiden tussendoor nog graag even uit over onderwerp A, onderwerp B, om daarna langzaam naar een climax te pieken, - geweldig toch, vind je ook niet, lieve lezer?- en om zich tenslotte
Henry Sturcke
After years of exploring the tension of the artist and the bourgeois, Mann's final act is to present the con man as artist (or vice versa).
A thoughtful, nuanced, and oftentimes strange look into the life of an expert con man. It's a shame this novel was never finished.
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
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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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