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Överste Chabert (La Comédie Humaine)

3.62  ·  Rating Details ·  2,403 Ratings  ·  87 Reviews
Colonel Chabert is a hero of Napoleon's army believed to be killed on the battlefield at Eylau. But he has survived, even though he has lost his memory, and spend several years in an asylum. The novel begins when he returns to Paris, to the life he left behind, only to discover that in his absence his life - family, society, identity - has changed. Napoleon is deposited, t ...more
Paperback, 80 pages
Published 1995 by Fischer & Co. (first published 1832)
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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 a ...more
Apr 27, 2014 Bruce rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 fo ...more
Mar 19, 2009 Manny rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: french
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 C
May 06, 2016 Wanda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to Wanda by: Dagny and 19th Century Literature Group
3 MAY 2016 - reading with the 19th Century Literature Group at These ladies read the absolute best books. I am enjoying the words right off the page with this one.

Free download at Project Gutenberg -

6 MAY 2016 - fantastic read! The ending brought tears to my eyes.

P.S. I must read more of Balzac.

Jun 24, 2008 Ryan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literature
A war hero returns from the dead to haunt the living. The struggle of the forgotten and dispossessed to reclaim lost property is a favorite premise for novelists, revolutionaries, and postwar French philosophers alike. Count of Monte Cristo, Marx and Engels' Communist Manifesto, and Derrida's reading of Marx are what immediately come to mind.

There are a lot of Vietnam veteran movies that used this story as well.

"I was buried under the dead, now I am buried under the living, under the whole of so
Oct 10, 2014 Lada marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
un roman serieux du romancier serieux. A lire certainement, cet ecrivain qui a ecrit une vaste epopee du XlX siecle. Un ecrivain comme Balzac qui a cree un univers, un tout requiert de la patience, un travail d'analyse, tel Homere

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 éle
Päivi Brink
Aug 19, 2012 Päivi Brink rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: french
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
Jun 30, 2008 Shannon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ah, Le Colonel Chabert! Pithy, beautiful, depressing. However, if you rave about this too much, you risk your friend (who happens to be getting her PhD in Literature, and should be above such things) giggling when you talk about how much you love Balzac. Say it out loud. Yeah. So funny.
London SE4
Nov 25, 2012 London SE4 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In 1807 Colonel Chabert, Napoleon's beloved commander, is severely wounded in the Battle of Eylau. Taken for dead and buried in a mass grave, he manages to escape and wanders in poverty through Europe for 10 years, torn between life and death, oblivion and consciousness. When he finally returns to France, he seeks Maître Derville's legal advice, to reclaim his name, his properties and the wife, who is now remarried to Count Ferraud, a member of the aristocracy. Chabert is painfully aware that th ...more
Carl Rocheleau
Jul 23, 2011 Carl Rocheleau rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ép
Apr 15, 2015 Solor rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Balzac is a giant of literature. You just have to read this minute novella to fully appreciate the creative power, his mastery of language and the deep vivid intelligence that makes him to stand out among the best in portraying wonderfully men and women of his age.

In few pages Balzac packs a fascinating tale of a Napoleonic good-natured hero left for dead in Russia: buried alive in a common grave, he manages to return to Paris where enlists lawyer Monsieur Derville in the attempt to regain back
Jul 25, 2008 Sylvia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Gláucia Renata
Dec 30, 2014 Gláucia Renata rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
O coronel Chabert é dado como morto em batalha e após quase 20 anos reaparece vivinho da silva. Mas tudo está mudado: sua esposa, atual condessa Ferraud, acreditando-se viúva casa-se novamente, o cenário político de Paris é outro e o coronel precisa provar sua identidade a fim de recuperar sua pensão, fortuna e principalmente, seu lugar na sociedade parisiense. Para isso procura o famoso advogado Derville, presente em outros processos da comédia humana.
Amei a primeira parte do livro em que o amb
If Kafka wrote Cast Away.
Your self and your legal self are two very different things. Or are they?
Jun 15, 2013 Ken rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 a ...more
Nov 24, 2015 Nadine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
2h30 d'écoute - Lu par M-G Séré -

Une histoire intéressante, celle d'un homme d'abord enterré sous les morts, puis nié chez les vivants. Cela m'a donné l'envie de voir les adaptions faites au cinéma ...
Oct 20, 2014 Realini rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Le Colonel Chabert by Honoré de Balzac
A good story of a colonel who comes back to life...briefly

My gold and blue macaw is named Balzac.
This is because I loved Le Père Goriot and a few other works of the great author and I was trying to create a minset, whereby the parrot would turn out to have an extensive vocabulary and talk as much as Balzac wrote, and as exquisite. The other macaw that I have, Puccini is much more talkative though- he says hello, Hannah, papa and a few other things I am stil
Jul 30, 2015 Bobbi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's a shame few Americans read Balzac. Wait, I forgot-- few Americans read anything. But for those who are curious, it doesn't help that there is no "Oxford Annotated" type of set available in English. One must acquire the novels, novellas, and short stories of The Human Comedy piecemeal, from a variety of sources, and hope for the best. The mere bulk of it can be daunting.

My suggestion would be to dive in anywhere and start with something short: "A Passion in the Desert," "La Grande Breteche,
Jul 30, 2016 Nikolaos rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
That was a refreshing read. The exaggerated story of the fallen, forgotten war hero and his struggle to reclaim what is rightfully his, at least according to moral justice of his time, paints a powerful image of society:

Few attain overwhelming virtue, fewer still acknowledge it when it's concealed, many will exploit it for personal gain.

Chambert's story is not immersed in pessimism and fatalism. The absurd adventure of the Colonel and the unwavering selfishness of his ex-wife only highlight what
Sep 23, 2016 Lisa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Lisa by: Balzac Yahoo Reading Group
Shelves: c19th, france, novella
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Franceska Kodheli
Aug 31, 2013 Franceska Kodheli rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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!
Steve Gordon
Short and sweet...or maybe a bit sour... depending on whose perspective you are reading from.... I suppose.
Jul 07, 2015 Anaïs rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
J'ai beaucoup aimé ce livre. Je l'ai lu en 2nde pour les cours et je me rappelle que la quasi totalité de la classe avait détesté mais pour moi c'est tout ce qu'il fait dans un livre.
C'est l'histoire d'un homme qui essaie de retrouver son identité tout en se cherchant lui même. D'une femme qui ne veut plus de son mari qu'elle préférait quand elle le croyait mort.
Des descriptions qui sont envoutantes. Les personnages prennent vie sous les yeux du lecteur. Notamment celle du colonel dans le bureau
May 05, 2012 Velvetink rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: wishlist, france
review soon
Mar 02, 2015 Edward rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
What would you do if your wife presumed you were dead, and after a reasonable length of time inherited your assets, remarried comfortably and had two children, but through odd circumstances you indeed found yourself alive and returned to find that you had been completely displaced? Worse, you're now old and disfigured and no longer the person you once were? Your former wife insists you are a fraud, and your assets are no longer available to you. You'd want to get yourself a good lawyer and find ...more
Balzac è un autore che mi è sempre molto piaciuto, sin da quando ero molto giovane. Il suo romanzo che preferisco è indubbiamente La cugina Betta, ma anche questo racconto trovo sia riuscitissimo. Va da sè che, da lettrice moderna, riconosco la pesantezza di alcuni passaggi e l'eccessiva artificiosità di taluni periodi, però, in generale, ciò che mi colpisce sempre è la potenza espressiva di questo autore, che, per certi versi, mi rammenta il Manzoni.
Perchè nessuno dei suoi personaggi è
Maan Kawas
Dec 05, 2013 Maan Kawas rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 conf ...more
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 ...more
Feb 19, 2015 علی rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Le Colonel Chabert (1832)
"سرهنگ شابر"، داستانی از مجموعه ای به همین نام، بازنده ی دیگری ست از زنجیره ی قهرمانان ساده دل بالزاک. او با فاحشه ای به نام رز شاپوتل عاشقانه ازدواج می کند، و به عنوان افسر مورد توجه ناپلئون، به جنگ می رود، به شدت زخمی می شود، طوری که خبر مرگش به پاریس می رسد. شابر اما با پرستاری صمیمانه ی دهقانان محلی، زنده می ماند، و پس از سال ها، در جستجوی رز، به پاریس باز می گردد. رز اما با کنت ثروتمندی ازدواج کرده و دار و ندار شابر را تصاحب کرده. شابر سرخورده برای به دست آوردن نام
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Page Length of Colonel Chabert 2 12 May 17, 2016 11:59AM  
  • La Conquête de Plassans
  • Pierre et Jean
  • Chroniques Italiennes
  • Bouvard and Pecuchet
  • Les Diaboliques
  • Les Caractères
  • Ruy Blas
  • La Vie de Marianne
  • L'Illusion Comique
Honoré de Balzac was a nineteenth-century French novelist and playwright. His magnum opus was a sequence of almost 100 novels and plays collectively entitled La Comédie humaine, which presents a panorama of French life in the years after the fall of Napoléon Bonaparte in 1815.

Due to his keen observation of detail and unfiltered representation of society, Balzac is regarded as one of the founders o
More about Honoré de Balzac...

Other Books in the Series

La Comédie Humaine (1 - 10 of 88 books)
  • La Maison Du Chat-Qui-Pelote
  • The Ball At Sceaux
  • Letters of Two Brides
  • The Purse
  • Modeste Mignon
  • A Start in Life
  • Albert Savarus
  • Vendetta
  • A Second Home
  • Domestic Peace

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“J’ai été enterré sous les morts ; mais, maintenant, je suis enterré sous des vivants, sous des actes, sous des faits, sous la société tout entière, qui veut me faire rentrer sous terre!” 1 likes
“Mais que peuvent les malheureux? Ils aiment, voilà tout.” 1 likes
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