The short story/ novella Le Colonel Chabert was first written in 1832, soon after the July 1830 revolution. It went through several transformations to produce in 1844 one of Balzac's most endearing characters, the "dead" Colonel Chabert.
After marrying a prostitute, Colonel Chabert becomes a cavalry officer. During a combat, believed to be dead, he is buried along with others. He survives, but the recovery is slow. When he returns, he finds out that his wife has remarried, his wealth vanished. He launches a long and unsuccessful attempt at regaining part of his former life.
In addition to the interest of the story itself, the novella depicts quick change in values following political and social transformations. Balzac regrets that honor is less valued than money since the Napoleonic era. Depictions of Paris slums are also of great interest.
Le Colonel Chabert belongs to the Scenes from Parisian Life (Scènes de la Vie Parisienne) subseries of La Comédie Humaine.