Proust's A la recherche du temps perdu is popularly regarded as the literary treatment of memory. Yet the fame of this novel has little to do with originality: far more subtle literary investigations of memory had been conducted for two centuries before Proust. The 'madeleine' episode of Du cote de chez Swann, where tasting a piece of cake soaked in tea restores the world of the narrators past to him, has clear antecedents. Proust himself refers both to the 'sensation bizarre' leading to the upsurge of memory in Nerval's Sylvie and to the sound of the thrush that reminds Chateaubriand of his childhood in the Memoires d'outre-tombe, but might also have mentioned the periwinkle in Rousseau's Confessions. The Romantic belief that the writing self exists in order to capture the essence of recollection, which for them constitutes the only true life of the creative artist, in turn points forward to Proust.