How similar is Proust's Recherche to Dante's Commedia? Not very, as it turns out. In the first place, Proust's protagonist does not require an experience of ideal love as a precondition for conversion: Mlle de Saint-Loup is no Beatrice. And in the second, what he produces is not an allegorized rendition of his creator's journey to authorship. Dante the pilgrim may well become Dante the writer, but Marcel does not become Proust, nor does he go on to write the Recherche; quite the contrary, the tantalizing and deliberately tempting set of similarities between author and narrator are an indication of the distance Proust has placed, like Elstir, between his life and his art.

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