QUIET: Marcel Proust was acutely sensitive to sounds, which made it difficult for him to fall asleep when he was not in his own bedroom, where the quiet was tomblike.

When he accepted an invitation as a weekend guest, the novelist invariably tested the patience of his hostess, as he would insist on a room off by himself, with a thick door to keep out household sounds and heavy drapes to muffle the noises from outdoors.He was even more demanding when he stopped at a hotel. Despite this, he was always effusively welcomed when he checked in, as, in addition to his own room, he would pay for the rooms on either side and the one above, with the understanding that they would remain unoccupied during the length of his stay.