Le Colonel Chabert

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

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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


One of Napoleon's favored colonels is left for dead in a battle in eastern europe. He awakes to find himself buried alive and seriously injured. Rescued by farmers, he spends years recovering in an insane asylum claiming he is a colonel to disbelievers. He returns to Paris to claim his fortune from his former wife, who has used his money to raise her status in society and marry into an aristocratic life. The attorney in this story is the most clever of all characters. Made into a movie in the 90's, with a lavish production, fab Empire furniture and clothing, true to the story, in French with English subtitles, is actually better than the book.

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 was reading it in estonian languageI also read Gobseckand Hüljatud naine


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.


I will say only this:1. Content-wise, this is basically exactly what I assumed reading Balzac in French would be like, though he is perhaps a bit funnier than expected.2. Don't be fooled like I was by the 'length' of this book; this is a 50ish-page story -- the rest is critical essay nonsense.

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!


...I will reserve comment, because I was a little indifferent. This is a translated version of one of the french classics. A very quick 50ish page read.


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)


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.

Susan Zinner

Continuing to work my way through La Comedie Humaine; liked this short novel (100 pages) as it explores a manipulative wife's attempt to distance herself from her war-hero husband, once believed dead.


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


Along with The Unknown Masterpiece, one of Balzac's best stories from his La Comédie Humaine. In his own amazing way, Balzac was slicing open French society as he saw it at the time, but his insight into human behavior still rings true in modern times (especially in this age of financial collapse with the repercussions mostly hitting individuals instead of business interests). The writing is sharp, full of Balzac's wit and deep human understanding, and you can't help but love descriptions such as, "Beneath this rag his body was so well hidden in darkness that a man of imagination would have thought the head itself was just a play of shadows, or maybe an unframed Rembrandt." In the end, Balzac's view is that justice (or true human justice) is unattainable for the poor old Colonel. Required reading.


I read this book for my Lawyers in Fiction seminar, my enrollment in which is the surest sign I am a third year, embracing my almost certainly final year of education. Ever. I had never read any Balzac before. As someone who loves to read, I am, in fact, a little bit embarrassed to admit how few translated classics I have read. I've managed to stick pretty closely to American and British literary canons. But I actually liked this more than I expected. It was originally written as a short story, and it moves along a quite a clip. I thought the tremendous faith Balzac demonstrates in the justice system and the law - coupled with his incredible cynicism about its failures and the scourges of humanity who make up both the parties and the bar - was really interesting, and made the book well worth reading.

MJ Nicholls

A litmus test for the betrothed—would you, after your man’s been killed in the latest war, pronounced dead and buried, and after you’ve married again and had children, take your man back when he turns up haggard and pauperous on your mansion doorstep? (Yes, this happens at the end of Tom Hanks’s Castaway, minus the mansion, but Balzac got there first in this novella). Well, WOULD YOU? When the bedraggled Colonel finally falls in with some solicitors who help his case, he hopes for once and for all he can reclaim his wife and fortune. Unfortunately, he married a former prostitute who’s less than chuffed the Colonel is on the scene and does her damnedest to suppress him and keep him a peasant in the bogs. Balzac’s typically poisonous writing is in full flood here in this quickie—one longs for a longer, meatier story. WILSON!!!!


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.

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