When Umberto Eco’s second novel, Foucault’s Pendulum, was published in English, I reviewed it, and I must have been in an unusually bad mood, because I hated it, and said so. Not long after the review appeared I was at a literary gathering in a stunningly grand room in the Louvre, in Paris, and when I arrived the first person I saw coming towards me was Umberto Eco himself. We had never met before, and this was obviously not likely to be the happiest first encounter, or so I thought. But Eco, in a moment of expansive generosity, spread out his arms to embrace me, and cried out, in greeting, “Rushdie! I am the bullshit Eco!”
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