Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
Felix Krull is born in the Rhine Valley, the son of a champagne maker named Engelbert Krull. Townspeople consider the Krull family upper class but frown on the easygoing way of life in the Krull household; Engelbert, for one thing, shows too much interest in one of his female employees. The Krulls frequently invite friends, among them Felix’s godfather, Herr Schimmelpreester, for merry parties, in which Felix and his sister Olympia are allowed to take part.
The greatest experience of Felix’s youth is a dramatic performance by a famous actor, Müller Rose. Since the actor is a friend of his father, Felix is allowed to visit backstage. When he sees the actor removing his makeup, he is completely disillusioned, but he marvels at the impressions an actor can create. Before long, Felix himself becomes an actor. He starts extending school vacations by falsifying his father’s signature on absentee notes, but he finds even more satisfaction from feigning sickness so convincingly as to leave the family doctor completely persuaded of his illness.
The champagne business unfortunately does not prosper. Englebert’s champagne is bottled exquisitely, but the wine is of such poor quality that even Herr Schimmelpreester speaks of it only with disdain. The loss of his business and, soon thereafter, his friends is too much for Engelbert, who shoots himself. Herr Schimmelpreester recommends that Frau Krull open a rooming house in Frankfurt. He arranges...
(The entire section is 1162 words.)
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