Alan Ryan

The Joy Of Thought

The Heart of Things

By

Weidenfeld & Nicolson 288pp £12.99 order from our bookshop

In a story which depends heavily on architectural metaphor, the fissures that began to snake across the masonry of Gianlorenzo Bernini’s twin bell-towers at St Peter’s in Rome, even before they were complete, were highly portentous.

Resting on bases which already formed part of Carlo Maderno’s façade, the twin campanili had been stretched up to three storeys during construction and elaborated far beyond Bernini’s original design. The continuous changes were instigated by Pope Urban VIII, the architect’s patron and not a man to be crossed. Naturally, he took no blame, and the alarming cracks were charges to be laid at Bernini’s feet.

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