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Colonel Chabert by Honoré de Balzac
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English (6)  Spanish (4)  French (2)  Italian (1)  All languages (13)
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  Kindlegohome | Jul 15, 2015 |
review soon ( )
  velvetink | Mar 31, 2013 |
Le colonel Chabert by Honoré de Balzac is a neglected masterpiece. The beginning of this short novel is a bit confusing as it starts in media res of clerks in a notary's office having lunch or supper and making fun of an old beggar in the street who apparently wants to see the notary. The old man, dressed in rags, is admitted and able to tell the notary his gruesome story. He relates how as a general he fought alongside Napoleon in the Battle of Eylau, in Prussia, and was slain so badly that, unconscious, with a gash over his skull, he was left for dead at the battlefield. He managed to escape from the mass grave into which he had been dumped and through the melting snow cry for help. Rescued, he was nursed back to health and after nine years returned to France to discover that his wife had remarried and disappeared and his dominions were sold off. The notary explains that his case is a difficult one, as officially colonel Chabert is dead, and to regain his possessions he must prove that he is who he claims to be, and not some impostor. The notary lends the colonel some money, to live on, while he agrees to represent him. A meeting with his (former) wife is arranged. She immediately recognizes him by his voice, but otherwise the colonel has unrecognizeably changed. The notary visits the colonel in his humble abode and explains that his fortune has dwindled, and that he could only hope to receive a fraction therof, if any at all.

Le colonel Chabert is a very pitiable story. As Chabert, the war hero, returns after nine years, he finds himself among the nouveau riche of the new society. Several times there is mention that there is a considerable difference in age between colonel Chabert and the other major players in the drama, notably his (ex-) wife,her new husband, the notary and the lawyer. While colonel Chabert still loves his former wife, and isn’t even attempting to regain his full possessions, he is met with coldly calculating cunning, to swindle him and deny him his rights. This cold-hearted society, in which money rules, is very reminiscent of our own times. ( )
1 vote edwinbcn | Feb 4, 2013 |
A somewhat charming novella, but overall not that interesting. ( )
  lindawwilson | Feb 28, 2009 |
Rich man leaves home in the war; gets amnesia; stays gone several years; remembers who he is; comes home; nobody believes him. Sound familiar? There's a reason for that. ( )
  horacewimsey | Dec 16, 2008 |
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» Add other authors (73 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Balzac, Honoré deprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ducourneau, Jean A.Forewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Morand, PaulPrefacesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pinxteren, Hans vanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pinxteren, Hans vanAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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À Madame la comtesse Ida de Bocarmé
Née du Chasteler
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« Allons ! encore notre vieux carrick ! »
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0811213595, Paperback)

The story of a French military hero of the Napoleonic Wars, long assumed to be dead, tries to recover his fortune and former wife through the help of a famous Parisian lawyer.

Colonel Chabert, a Napoleonic War hero supposedly killed in the Battle of Eylau, returns to Paris after a long convalescence to find his wife remarried, and his pension gone. He employs a young, well-known lawyer to at least reclaim his pension. It is a game of wits: first to convince the lawyer that he is who he says he is; secondly to get his wife to admit to his identity and thereby give up some of her wealth. Once the lawyer believes Chabert's story, the wife must be made to part with his pension...

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:10:30 -0400)

A hero of the Napoleonic Wars, supposedly killed in battle, returns after a long convalescence to find his wife remarried and his pension gone. Colonel Chabert hires a lawyer to obtain justice, but the lawyer is playing a double game--unknown to the colonel he is working for the wife.… (more)

» see all 5 descriptions

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