Robert Byron (1905-1941), The Road to Oxiana
(London: Picador, 1994), pp. 61-62:
Teherani: 'What's this book?'
Christopher: 'A book of history.'
Teherani: 'What history?'
Christopher: 'The history of Rum and the countries near
it, such as Persia, Egypt, Turkey, and Frankistan.'
Assistant (opening the book): 'Ya Ali! What characters!'
Teherani: 'Can you read it?'
Christopher: 'Of course. It's my language.'
Teherani: 'Read it to us.'
Christopher: 'But you cannot understand the language.'
Isfahani: 'No matter. Read a little.'
Muleteers: 'Go on! Go on!'
Christopher: '"It may occasion some surprise that the
Roman pontiff should erect, in the heart of France, the
tribunal from whence he hurled his anathemas against
the king; but our surprise will vanish so soon as we form
a just estimate of a king of France in the eleventh
Teherani: 'What's that about?'
Christopher: 'About the Pope.'
Teherani: 'The Foof? Who's that?'
Christopher: 'The Caliph of Rum.'
Muleteer: 'It's history of the Caliph of Rum.'
Teherani: 'Shut up! Is it a new book?'
Assistant: 'Is it full of clean thoughts?'
Christopher: 'It is without religion. The man who wrote
it did not believe in the prophets.'
Teherani: 'Did he believe in God?'
Christopher: 'Perhaps. But he despised the prophets. He
said that Jesus was an ordinary man (general agreement)
and that Mohammad was an ordinary man (general
depression) and that Zoroaster was an ordinary man.'
Muleteer (who speaks Turkish and doesn't understand
well): 'Was he called Zoroaster?'
Christopher: 'No, Gibbon.'
Chorus: 'Ghiboon! Ghiboon!'