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

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!!!!

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.

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!

Päivi Brink

I like Balzac's short stories better than his novels. Le Colonel Chabert is a morality of a colonel who returns from the dead. He was buried alive after a battle in one of Napoleon's wars, but managed to get out from a pile of bodies. After some years he comes back to Paris and finds out his wife has remarried. He tries to get back his wife and fortune, but the wife is too clever for him. He loses even his name and reputation as one of the heroes of the war.I really liked the characters here and the moral accusations Balzac targets on the French society. After Napoleon was sent to St Helena the old war heroes were forgotten. The law and lawyers are in an important role in the story. The complexity of law and the difficulties to solve legal matters play an important part here. The lawyers are compared to priests in the end. The colonel's character is superior to others. "La malheur est une espèce de talisman dont la vertu consiste à corroborer notre constitution primitive; il augmente la méfiance et la méchanceté chez certains hommes, comme il accroit la bonté de ceux qui ont un coeur excellent."

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.

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 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.

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 :)


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...


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.


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.

Maan Kawas

A stunning and very beautiful but painful novella by the great French novelist and playwright Honore de Balzac! Despite its main focus on society during the Restoration period in France, it depicts wild and harsh aspects of reality that can be found almost everywhere and every time. The novella tackles various points and themes, such as social rank, social climbers, social injustice, the powerful role of money in people’s life, relationships, and social status, selfishness vs. altruism, and conflict over power and possession. It is was quite shocking to see a wife asking her former husband, who was mistakenly reported as dead during the war, to remain dead and to claim being a swindler if he really loves her and cares about her and her two children from the second marriage. I highly appreciated the colonel humane tendency, self-sacrifice, forgiving the evil deed of his wife, and altruism, while deeply detested his wife’s selfish and cruel actions and behavior. The contrast between the colonel’s current life of poverty and misery and the luxurious and prosperous life of his selfish and cruel wife reflects Balzac’s mastery in creating novels that shakes your heart deeply. The language is so attractive and you feel that you cannot put the book until you have reached the last page.


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.

Esteban Gordon

Short and sweet...or maybe a bit sour... depending on whose perspective you are reading from.... I suppose.


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.

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