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Confessions of Felix Krull, Confidence Man: The Early Years Paperback – Mar 31 1992
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Top Customer Reviews
ponderous masterpieces as The Magic Mountain is one of my
Many readers who come to it after Buddenbrooks or Tonio Kroeger
note the parallels Mann felt existed between the artist and
the confidence man. In Tonio Kroeger, the eponymous central
character has an encounter in his home town where he's mistaken
briefly for a con man. In the earlier story, it's an incident
full of irony. In Felix Krull, Mann turns that theme on its
head and plays it as a burlesque.
The elegance and suavity of the writing, captured well by
the Lindley translation, are both a pleasure to read, and
an analogue for the well-oiled confidence skills of the
first person narrator. It's helpful to remember that we
are being told "true confessions" by a man who has made
his way in life by taking people in.
Another feature of the work, not often commented on, is
the element of parody. Mann wrote the book with one eye,
as it were, on the great German picaresque novel by
Hans von Grimmelshausen, Simplicius Simplicisimus. Krull's
travails, talents, and successes are at times a humorous
transposition of those in Grimmelshausen's work.
Because the book was started back in 1911, and reflects on
a period 20 or more years earlier, it's a historical time
capsule of sorts. This might annoy some readers; for others,
it grants the work a certain period charm.
Finally, we should remember that the work is incomplete. This
was intended to be the first part of a full-dress fictional
memoir. Had he lived longer, Mann might have written 2 more
volumes.Read more ›
The intriguing thing about Krull is that he is every bit the artist. He is an actor through and through, so good at his trade that he actually becomes (even in his own mind) the character he is portraying. The only difference is that his stage is the world at large. Throughout Felix's early years he deceives various people, steals from a couple of them, takes advantage of others. But Felix is not your typical conman. He seems not to want to hurt anyone, and often goes out of his way to be fair to people. The schemes he does pull he does not consider to be necessarily wrong--in fact, he sees himself acting in an acceptable way. His justification for this is that he is made of 'finer clay' than other people.
In Felix we see many of Mann's other characters--Hans Castorp (in his education at the museum in Lisbon), Tonio Kroger (in his musings on the price and toll of being an artist), even Christian or Hanno Buddenbrook in a sense (what they may have been under other circumstances, without familial pressure). Certainly, anyone familiar with Mann's works will notice that most of the themes of this book are familiar, and have been used in other works as well. There really is nothing groundbreaking in Felix Krull--it is rather an enjoyable novel, especially for fans of Mann, that is easy to read and has some good insights in it. It is not his best work, but it is certainly worth the time to read it.
Most recent customer reviews
This is a wonderfully eloquent autobiography of a wonderfully arrogant young man. It's so artful and creative, you'd think it was nonfiction. I highly recommend it. Read morePublished on Oct. 21 2003 by Daniel
The story follows the career of a young man, naturally embued with a handsome frame, a fine mind, and little in the way of morals. Read morePublished on July 9 2001 by Ken Williams
This book is like an ocean liner holed beneath the waterline at several points but with effective bulkheads. Read morePublished on July 29 2000 by Captain Cook
Those who know Thomas Mann for his weightier books will be surprised to see how light this short novel is.
Felix Krull is a "Con Man. Read more
The Confessions of Felix Krull, published in the year of Thomas Mann's death, 1955,is a remarkable work of humor and satire. Read morePublished on March 24 2000 by mholesh
This was the first book I ever read by Thomas Mann, and I was proud and amazed that I'd gotten through the whole thing. In fact I still am. Read morePublished on March 23 2000
The best way to escape one's own lot in life is to re-invent one's life as a far more interesting character, and thus does Felix Krull embark on his adult life. Read morePublished on Jan. 13 2000 by Bob Dunning
Felix is a gentleman of the highest order; one who possesses a philosopher's intellect and a romantic's instinct. Read morePublished on June 3 1999