Le Colonel Chabert (English: Colonel Chabert) is an 1832 novella by French novelist and playwright Honoré de Balzac (1799–1850). It is included in his series of novels (or Roman-fleuve) known as La Comédie humaine (The Human Comedy), which depicts and parodies French society in the period of the Restoration (1815–1830) and the July Monarchy (1830–1848).
The novella opens with clerks in the Paris law office of Derville, an attorney, looking out the window and mocking a determined old man walking through the streets. Le Colonel Chabert is famous for its in medias res opening.
Colonel Chabert marries Rose Chapotel, who was living a modest life. 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 is buried with other French casualties. Though he does survive—after extricating himself from his own grave—and is nursed back to health by local peasants, it takes several years for him to recover. After he recovers, he returns to Paris and discovers his "widow" has married the wealthy Count Ferraud. She has also liquidated all of Chabert's belongings. Seeking to regain his name and monies that were wrongly given away as inheritance, he hires Derville, an attorney, to win back his money and his honor. Derville, who also represents the Countess Ferraud, warns Chabert against accepting a settlement bribe from the Countess. In the end, Chabert walks away empty handed from his widow and spends the rest of his days at a hospice.