In his novel The Spire (1964), William Golding tells the story of a medieval building patron driven to the brink of madness by his desire to complete a massive architectural commission.1 The patron, Jocelin, believes he has been divinely chosen to build a crossing tower over a cathedral whose slight piers and shallow foundations are wholly inadequate to the task of supporting such a structure. Numerous complications ensue. The cathedral chapter roils as disruptions multiply and expenditures mushroom. The building workshop rebels as the danger of the undertaking becomes apparent. But Jocelin, unmoved, presses onward. Indeed, he comes to identify with the project to such an extent...

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