Back from the dead

This morning’s Observer column

Premature obituaries have their uses. It is said that when Alfred Nobel, the Swedish arms dealer, read an obituary which described him as a ‘merchant of death’ he was moved to endow the Nobel Prizes as a way of laundering his image. They also provide opportunities for setting up jokes, as when Mark Twain observed that ‘the report of my death was an exaggeration’, or when the Daily Telegraph published an obit of folk singer Dave Swarbrick after he’d been admitted to a Midlands hospital with a chest infection. ‘It’s not the first time,’ Swarbrick observed, ‘that I’ve died in Coventry.’

What are we to make, then, of the obituary of Steve Jobs, Apple’s mercurial CEO, which was inadvertently released by Bloomberg News last week?