By IAN THOMSON
Umberto Eco, Italy’s best-known literary export, was in a bad way when I met him in 1986 at Bologna University, where he was Professor of Semiotics (that abstruse branch of literary theory). “I’ve become a dissociated and schizophrenic personality”, he told me, crumpling up a cigarette packet. “The movie of The Name of the Rose has upset my psychic balance!” Shuffling grumpily round his office, he lifted up and slammed down books. Eco’s 1980 medieval whodunit had just been made into a film by the French director Jean-Jacques Annaud, starring Sean Connery as the monk-detective William of Baskerville. An artful reworking of Conan Doyle (with Sherlock Holmes transplanted to fourteenth-century Italy), the novel had sold more than 10 million copies worldwide. However, Eco refused to speak to journalists about the film.