Several persons have identified Wagner’s Parsifal as the template for Search. In both a young man engages in an epic quest. We know that Proust first heard the opera after its copyright expired in 1914 (Wagner had forbidden its performance anywhere but at Bayreuth), either in person or by his telephone music service. But the score and libretto would have been available earlier and concert versions were performed across Europe.
I am struck by the number of echos of the opera found in the novel:
Parsifal’s mentor is Gurnemanz. Is this the medieval root of the Guermantes name?
Parsifal makes his entrance with a dead swan over his shoulder that he has shot with his bow. Swann?
The evil Klingsor fills the valley with flower-girls to tempt the knights. In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower?
But the clincher is Gurnemantz’ advice to Parsifal as he prepares to search for the spear: “Time here has become space.”