Recently in the Paris Review: "Whether they follow an established tradition or rebel against it, whether they are authors of classics or are considered innovators, rare are the writers who were not also great readers. Proust was no exception to this rule; reading had always been his earliest and most important source of pleasure and stimulation, and it remained as such. He is distinguished from his colleagues, however, by the immense role that literature plays in his oeuvre."
"Proust seemed incapable of creating a character without putting a book in his hands. Two hundred characters inhabit the world he imagined, and some sixty writers preside over it. Certain of them, like Chateaubriand and Baudelaire, inspired him, while others, Mme de Sévigné, Racine, Saint-Simon, and Balzac, enhance his personages. Finally, Proust was so steeped in the works of his favorite authors that he gave characters they had created an important place in his own novel. Thus Racine's Phèdre plays an important role in the life of the Narrator, and Charlus would not be himself without Balzac's Vautrin."
Exerpts taken from The Paris Review. Read their full article here, The Paris Review: Monsieur Proust's Library".