Confessions of Felix Krull, Confidence Man

by Thomas Mann
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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, 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.

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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.

Characters Discussed

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Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 317

Felix Krull

Felix Krull (FAY-lihks krewl), alias Armand, a hotel employee; alias the Marquis de Venosta. Impressed at a theatrical performance by the ease with which the actors create various impressions, Felix himself becomes an actor. From that time on he plays a variety of roles in life. As Armand, the waiter in a hotel, he leads a double life on the proceeds from the sale of jewels he steals from a guest, Mme Houpflé; impersonating the Marquis de Venosta, he sets out on a trip around the world.

Müller Rose

Müller Rose (MEW-lur ROH-suh), an actor whose performance inspires Felix Krull himself to become an actor.

Madame Houpflé

Madame Houpflé (HEWPF-lay), a guest at the hotel where Felix Krull, alias Armand, is employed. She becomes Armand’s mistress, and, to complete her humiliation, she begs him to rob her of all her valuables.

The Marquis de Venosta

The Marquis de Venosta (vay-NOH-stah), a nobleman. In despair because his parents plan to send him around the world, thus separating him from his mistress Zaza, he engages Armand (Felix Krull) to impersonate him and make the journey in his stead.

Dom Antonio José Kuckuck

Dom Antonio José Kuckuck (ahn-TOH-nyoh ho-SEH KEW-kewk), a Portuguese museum director whom Felix Krull, alias the Marquis de Venosta, visits in Lisbon.

Dona Maria Pia Kuckuck

Dona Maria Pia Kuckuck (mah-REE-ah PEE-ah), the wife of Dom Antonio José Kuckuck. She falls in love with Felix Krull, alias the Marquis de Venosta, while he is attempting to seduce her daughter.

Susanna “Zouzou” Kuckuck

Susanna “Zouzou” Kuckuck, their daughter.

Engelbert Krull

Engelbert Krull (ahng-GEHL-burt) and

Frau Krull

Frau Krull, Felix Krull’s parents.

Olympia Krull

Olympia Krull, Felix Krull’s sister.

Herr Schimmelpreester

Herr Schimmelpreester (shih-MAL-pray-stur), Felix Krull’s godfather.

Lord Strathbogie

Lord Strathbogie, a guest at the hotel where Felix Krull, alias Armand, works.


Zaza (sah-sah), the Marquis de Venosta’s mistress.

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