Playing soccer in Tehran, June 1990
Yannis Behrakis / Reuters

In Joseph Conrad's Youth, a novella published at the turn of the century, Marlowe, the narrator, remembers when he first encountered "the East":

And then, before I could open my lips, the East spoke to me, but it was in a Western voice. A torrent of words was poured into the enigmatical, the fateful silence; outlandish, angry words mixed with words and even whole sentences of good English, less strange but even more surprising. The voice swore and cursed violently; it riddled the solemn peace of the bay by a volley of abuse. It began by calling me Pig, and

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