For the past week, I’ve been completely drowned in the life and works of Fryderyk Chopin, whose music I have never particularly liked (except for the Nocturnes and Etudes) but with whom I am obliged to become reacquainted for the sake of the project I’m working on.  I treated myself to a volume of his collected letters, which have become my favorite reading material lately; while I am not his number-one fan in a musical sense, his personality absolutely delights me.  Chopin was a highly complex, extremely intelligent, fussy, gossipy, charming elitist with a wicked tongue and an often deadpan sardonic sense of humor.  I’ve always thought that if I’d met him, we would have hit it off famously.  His letters are a fascinating revelation both of his character and of the times he lived in; they range from beautifully tender epistles to beloved friends and family to imperious, spoiled-brat instructions to his friend Julian Fontana who was his factotum in Paris while Chopin was in Nohant and Majorca with George Sand.  Interwoven with his personal life are amazing insights about the nature of creativity and art.  Even if you have no interest in music, Chopin’s letters are worth reading; they are a marvelous autobiography, a first-hand portrait of a bygone age, and a testament to how much we, as a society, are lacking now that we no longer write letters