Confessions of Felix Krull, Confidence Man

by Thomas Mann

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Last Updated on September 5, 2023, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 248

Felix Krull, the protagonist, is a German who moves to France. As a young boy, he lives with his family in the Rhine Valley and briefly, after his father’s suicide, in Frankfurt. Felix is a chameleonic picaro-type character, eternally fascinated by masks and acting. He not only develops an alter-ego, Armand, but also impersonates the Marquis de Venosta at the young aristocrat’s request. Apparently completely amoral, Felix is a jewel thief who sells stolen goods and also enjoys deceiving people and seducing wealthy women.

Engelbert Krull, Felix’s father, owns a champagne winery that goes out of business, leading him to suicide by shooting himself. His death prompts Frau Krull’s move to Frankfurt with Felix and his sister, Olympia.

Madame Houpflé, the wife of a wealthy merchant, is a guest at the hotel where Felix/Armand works. Her psychological compulsion to be humiliated is realized through her affair with Armand, and she forgives him for having stolen and sold her jewels.

The Marquis de Venosta is a young dilettante who enjoys spending time with Zaza, his mistress, in the Parisian hot-spots. He arranges to have Felix impersonate him in order to dupe his parents.

Antonio José Kuckuck, a Portuguese academic, is the director of a museum. Through a chance meeting on a train, Felix secures an introduction to the professor’s home, where he meets his daughter, Susanna, and wife, Maria Pia. Both women develop feelings for Felix, who directs his seductive charms their way.

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