Le Colonel Chabert

ISBN: 2070411184
ISBN 13: 9782070411184
By: Honoré de Balzac

Check Price Now


Classic Classics Currently Reading Fiction Français France French French Literature School To Read

About this book

Le Colonel Chabert est supposé d'avoir été tué sur le champ d'honneur dans l'une des batailles de Napoléon. Laissé pour mort sur ​​le champ de bataille d'Eylau et ayant perdu sa mémoire, il a passé un an dans un asile. Le roman commence quand il revient à Paris, à la vie qu'il avait laisse derrière lui, seulement pour découvrir que, en son absence, sa vie - sa famille, sa société, son identité - a changé. Napoléon est déposée, l'aristocratie est revenu au pouvoir, comme si la révolution ne s'était jamais produit. Sa femme, croyant qu'il était mort, s'est remariée avec un aristocrate. Horrifié car elle prétend qu'elle ne le reconnaît pas, et rendu malade par une société qui ne reconnaît pas ses mérites antérieurs, Chabert fait la promesse de regagner son argent et sa réputation.

Reader's Thoughts


Ha! I "read" this in French years ago with a crabby professor...I feel stressed just seeing the title even now! I wonder if the book is actually good??? Mon dieu...


This 1832 novella by Honoré de Balzac addresses a theme dealt with by many authors over the years, the return of a presumed dead husband after his “widow” has remarried. In this instance, Colonel Chabert, a favorite of Napoleon, had been seen to receive a grievous and presumably lethal wound on the battlefield and was subsequently buried in a mass grave from which local farmers rescued him. Amnesiac for several years, he was cared for in an asylum. Finally recovering his memories, he sets out for Paris to search for his wife who had been a prostitute before he married her. In fact he discovers that she has made a fashionable marriage to an aristocrat – she is now the Countess Ferraud - and has had a couple of children. Although her second husband has begun to tire of her, her social position and continuing class aspirations determine that she has no interest in acknowledging her former husband’s return. Chabert puts his case into the hands of the attorney Derville, and the story explores the path by which the conundrum is resolved.In this story Balzac is psychologically perceptive and acutely descriptive of personalities and settings, making vivid the Parisian landscape and the social and cultural milieu in which his characters operate. He draws a sharp contrast between the Napoleonic values of military heroism and personal rectitude and the Restoration emphasis on wealth and social rank. This novella was apparently written immediately after Père Goriot and contains slight allusions to the characters in this latter novel, especially Derville. Each time I read one of Balzac’s novels I want to read more. English translations are readily available for those who prefer.

Carl Rocheleau

Avis aux intéressés, voici un des romans les plus digestes qu'ait écrit Balzac. Un des plus court aussi, si je ne m'abuse.Vous comprendrez donc que l'intrigue est simple : un homme à l'allure de mendiant se présente dans un cabinet et dit être le colonel Chabert, mort à Eylau.Après une discussion incroyablement longue pendant laquelle il raconte toute ses péripéties, la raison de sa venue devient clair : sa femme, en possession de tous les biens du "défunt", refuse de le reconnaître comme son époux.Ce qui est intéressant dans ce roman, c'est l'idée que nous donne Balzac d'une situation fréquente à cette époque - même aujourd'hui. Combien sont-ils ceux qui, mendiant dans la rue, ont été des gens de carrières intelligents à qui rien ne résistait ?Toujours actuel, troublant et touchant, Le Colonel Chabert peut être lu par tous. Ne répudions pas les classiques. Donnons-leur de l'amour.8/10 À lire ou à relire.


I have recently found another work by Balzac, "Old Goriot" both in French and English; after reading this dramatic short story oh his I am very excited to begin reading the others. This put me in the mind of Les Miserables by Hugo, both in tenor and theme. Perhaps this gene of French literature deserves some fresh attention.


i read this for my lawyers in fiction seminar. i've never read any balzac before, but he seems to be all about the social commentary. i once heard him referred to as the french dickens. that seems pretty accurate. anyway, this is a pretty solid early-19th-century tragic tale of an old dude that everybody thought was dead until he showed back up and tried to sue his (ex-)wife to get her and his possessions back. throughout, he's aided by a crafty lawyer, hence the seminar assigned reading. there's lots of agonizing about the changing times and the newly legalized society and the questionable ethics of members of the legal profession. this kind of novel isn't really my thing, but it was a quick read and made for some moderately interesting discussion.


One of the largest mental readjustments I had to make when I started reading Balzac was in my picture of Napoléon. Being brought up in England, I was used to thinking of him as an evil megalomaniac, who nearly destroyed Europe and was only stopped by the heroic efforts of Admiral Nelson and the Duke of Wellington. How wrong I was! Of course, I now saw that he represented all that was good and heroic about France; after him, it just descended into pathetic bickering and intriguing. Poor Colonel Chabert fights gallantly in the Napoleonic Wars, and is left for dead on the battlefield. Somehow, he survives, and eventually finds his way back to France. Then he discovers that his wife has remarried and wants nothing to do with him; he's just an embarrassment. She even goes so far as to hire a fancy lawyer to try and work out a financial settlement so that he'll leave her alone. It took a couple of chapters to finish moving all my mental furniture around, but by the end I was suitably disgusted, and nostalgically looking back to the great days of the Empire. His horrible wife! How could she! That's just typical of what's wrong with France these days! I was quite surprised to see how quickly I accepted all the necessary premises, even at an emotional level.The movie is good too. Gérard Depardieu is a fine Chabert.


Colonel Chabert marries Rose Chapotel, a prostitute. Colonel Chabert then becomes a French cavalry officer who is held in high esteem by Napoleon Bonaparte. After being severely wounded in the Battle of Eylau (1807), Chabert is recorded as dead and buried with other French casualties. However, he survives and after extricating himself from his own grave is nursed back to health by local peasants.The English version can be found at Project Gutenberg.The original French text at La Bibliothèque électronique du Québec.There is a movie Colonel Chabert (1994) made based on this book, with Gérard Depardieu, Fanny Ardant, Fabrice Luchini.3* La maison du Chat-qui-pelote (1830)3* Le bal de Sceaux (1830)3* La Bourse (1830)4* La Vendetta (1830)3* Madame Firmiani (1832)3* Une Double Famille (1830)4* La paix du ménage (1830)3* La Fausse Maîtresse (1842)3* Étude de femme (1830)4* Albert Savarus (1842)4* Mémoires de Deux Jeunes Mariées (1841)3* Le Colonel Chabert (1844, first published as La transaction, 1832)

Franceska Kodheli

Kolonel Shaberi i ngjante asaj gruas,e cila kishte vuajtur nga ethet 15 vjet me radhe dhe diten qe u sherua iu duk sikur e kapi ndonje semundje tjeter. Ka lumturi qe te duken aq te pamundura; kur vijne te djegin si vetetima!

Diana Ray

A favorite short story, the truth shall prevail. Perserverance in the face of sure defeat. Never say die.


Un classique qui n'a rien perdu de son acuité. La peinture de la bonne société reste toujours d'actualité dans ce roman féroce qui ne cache rien des lâchetés bourgeoises, des convenances et de l'appât du gain. A lire et à relire

Žydrūnas Jonušas

Seniai beturėjau tą tokį vaikystės jausmą, kada sunku atsitraukti nuo kūrinio ir negali padėti knygos iš rankų. Atrodo, nu dar puslapiuką, nu pastraipą vieną :) labai gražus ir vėlgi pasakojimiškas Balzaco auksiukas. Toks tikras epas - pasakojimas, kuriam net ne itin svarbu kaip tie veiksmai vystosi, o svarbu, kad jie yra ir seka vienas kitą labai greitai. Skaitant šį kūrinį man prieš akis stovėjo kūrinio ekranizacija (kurios, kiek žinau, nėra, bet tikrai tikrai galėtų būti, ir filmas turėtų didžiulį pasisekimą, aišku atsižvelgiant į atitinkamus aktorius kiekvienam personažui ir visa kita). Žodžiu, nesudėtingas, bet labai vaizdingas ir originalus pasakojimas apie kareivį prisikėlusį iš numirusių (nieko antgamtiška nėra, nors skamba įspūdingai :))Rekomenduoju išsiilgusiems Balzako ir balzakiško pasaulio :)

Vitor Frazão

Um soldado é dado como morto e anos depois regressa a casa para constatar que não tem lugar nela. O tema não é exactamente inovador (já não o era em 1832), contudo, mantém a carga emocional esperada, contribuindo, em conjunto com qualidade da escrita e da construção das personagens, para uma história mediana. 2,8, talvez até 2,9 Estrelas, mas de modo algum 3.

Geoffrey Fox

En esta tragicómica historia de traición y honor, Balzac contrapone la dignidad y nobleza de espíritu de un viejo soldado del Emperador Napoleón I a la astucia y avaricia calculada y mezquina de una mujer que representa la nueva época, "la Restauración" (1815-1830) de la monarquía después de Napoleón). Chalbert, héroe de la Grande Armée recordado por su valor y energía en la batalla de Eylau (1807) donde todo el mundo cree que murió, aparece en París algunos 10 años después de su supuesta muerte, para reclamar sus títulos, sus propiedades y especialmente a su mujer — que, creyéndose viuda, se ha casado con ambicioso jóven y ha aprovechado de la fortuna que heredó como viuda de héroe para enriquecerse mucho más. Al viejo soldado, paupérrimo y gastado físicamente por las heridas y otros sufrimientos, lo toman por loco cuando dice que es Chalbert, hasta conseguir que le escuche Derville, el joven asesor legal de la supuesta viuda. (Derville es "procurador" o, en francés, un avoué que "[r]epresenta a los litigantes en los tribuales de primera instancia, busca abogado en los contenciosos importantes y ofrece consejo en caso de litigio civil", explica la traductora). Balzac nos describe con lujo de detalle el desorden y la desidia de una oficina de procurador (que recuerda los despachos de los abogados de Londres en "Pickwick Papers" de Dickens); el arrabal miserable en la periferia de París donde se aloja el coronel con un viejo camarada de armas; y el gran lujo de la estancia en el campo de la mujer "viuda" — que, como descubrimos, era prostituta cuando Chalbert primero la conocía y ahora es condesa. Derville es un procurador honrado pero taimado que decide ganarle el caso al pobre coronel, obligando a la condesa a reconocer que es quién dice que es y restaurándole una gran parte de la fortuna que le ha robado, y parece estar a punto de conseguirlo cuando la condesa misma entra en escena — y con sus mañas aprovecha la nobleza de espíritu del viejo soldado para que renuncia a todo, incluso su identidad. Esta nueva traducción se ha publicado para acompañar la novela de Javier Marías, Los enamoramientos, que hace referencia a esta vieja y famosa novela (ya hecha película por lo menos dos veces) publicada en 1832.


It is a great story, but it feels like a draft, maybe because I read it after I saw the 1994 movie by Yves Angelo.


Buena prosa. Se hace corto. En realidad es más un relato que una novela. Recomendable si os gusta este tipo de literatura algo recargada.

Share your thoughts

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *