Sunday, 16 November 2014


Yes, Nobel had a fine sense of irony. He supported Bertha von Suttner’s peace movement, but when she asked him to endorse her programmatic book DOWN WITH ARMS, he replied: That’s a little cruel. Where am I supposed to sell my new powder if world peace breaks out?

When he met with the Dynamiteurs, as he called the directors and administrators of the Society for Dynamite (yes, such a club existed!), he ardently wished for a new Mephistopheles to heat up the fire for those evil-doers (malfaisants). Well, maybe that was hypocrisy rather than irony. He was writing this to a pacifist after all.

You are a veritable Amazon, to make war on war, he tells Suttner.

From another letter to her: I feel old and worm-eaten…I want to finish a certain business I have in hand before retiring to the Hotel des Invalides, a Paris hospital built in 1680 for veterans.

Best example of Nobel’s irony? His “autobiography”:
A humane physician should have terminated my wretched half-life when I made my bawling entrance into life. Greatest merit: keeping my nails clean and burdening no one. Greatest failing: no family, no good mood, no good stomach. Greatest and only request: Don’t bury me alive. Greatest sin: Did not worship Mammon. Most significant events in my life: None.

(Translated from E. Biedermann, Der Briefwechsel zwischen Alfred Nobel und Bertha von Suttner)

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