chapter  5
20 Pages

Character and Identity

In 1888, a French newspaper, mistakenly thinking the scientist and inventor had died, published Alfred Nobel’s obituary, headlining it, “The merchant of death is dead.” The obituary read, “Dr. Alfred Nobel, who made his fortune by finding a way to kill the most people as ever before in the shortest time possible, died yesterday.” This was a reference to Nobel having invented nitroglycerin. Actually, Alfred’s brother, Ludvig, was the one who had died. Mortified upon seeing how he would be remembered, he changed his will to bequeath most of his fortune to the establishment of a series of prizes for peace, literature, and the sciences that now bear his name. The prizes were established eight years later, when Nobel actually died and his will was unveiled.1