Confessions of Felix Krull, Confidence Man: The Early Years by Thomas Mann

By Thomas Mann

Recounts the enchanted occupation of the con guy extraordinaire Felix Krull--a guy unhampered by means of the ethical precepts that govern the behavior of standard humans.

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But it is also true, as I was soon to learn, that these boys, the sons of winegrowers and government employees, had been warned by their parents to stay away from me. Indeed, when I experimentally invited one of them to our house, he told me to my face that he couldn't come because our family was not respectable. This pained me and made me covet an association that otherwise I should not have cared for. It must be admitted, however, that the town's opinion of our household had a certain justification.

First published in German in 1954 and a year later in English. Originally the character of Felix Krull appeared in a short story written in 1911. The story wasn't published until 1936, in the book Stories of Three Decades along with twenty-three other stories written between 1896 and 1929, the year in which he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. Much later, Mann expanded the story and 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, remains unfinished.

I closed my eyes and then opened them to their widest extent, making them look appealing and plaintive. I knew without a mirror that my hair was rumpled from sleep and fell in damp strands across my brow, and that my face was pale. I made it look sunken by a device of my own, drawing in my cheeks and unobtrusively holding them in with my teeth. This made my chin appear longer, too, and gave me the appearance of having grown thin overnight. A dilation of the nostrils and an almost painful twitching of the muscles at the corners of the eyes contributed to this effect.

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