George A. Panichas, RIP

by Jeremy Beer on March 29, 2010 · 6 comments <span>Print this article</span> Print this article

in Politics & Power,Short,Writers & Poets

For those who haven’t heard, I am sorry to report that George A. Panichas, longtime editor of Modern Age, has died. As those who knew him are aware, Dr. Panichas was a shy and reclusive man, and so it has taken a while for this news to come out. But an obituary appeared in the Washington Post on March 23. And here is a link to the funeral home’s obituary.

Dr. Panichas (as one inevitably referred to him, even after many years of acquaintance) was generous with his praise and encouragement of young writers; indeed, no one who received a letter from Dr. Panichas in which he accepted one’s contribution to Modern Age ever forgot it. He assured you that your essay or review (slight though it may have been) would surely change the state of public debate forever. He averred that it revealed a mind deeply in tune with Truth, Beauty, and the Divine. He urged you to write more in the future and implied that you were destined to achieve a reputation that would last for generations, perhaps centuries.

And then, he was so absolutely humble and allergic to self-promotion (not to mention most post-1950s technologies) that it seems that few of his former associates knew he had died until today, twelve days after his death, and three days after the funeral service.

Whatever else might be said of Dr. Panichas’s Modern Age, this much is certainly true: he ensured that the journal remained a bastion of traditionalist conservative inquiry, analysis, and belles-lettres. The neoconservatives never much impressed Dr. George A. Panichas, not because he wasn’t open-minded (he could be surprisingly so), but precisely because he was — and he was horrified by their ideological spirit. Movement conservatism irritated — and saddened — him deeply.

I owe Dr. Panichas a great debt. He published my earliest essays and reviews (a couple of which were really not very good at all, despite his glowing praise) and provided a home for my writing that I always knew I could come back to. He unfailingly asked about my wife Kara, with whom he had a special affection from her days as Modern Age‘s managing editor. He was always too kind, too encouraging, too understanding, too charitable. I miss him and those old typewritten letters on Modern Age stationery. They bespoke a genteelism that seems now to be entirely missing in all corners of our harried world.

Κύριε ἐλέησον, Χριστὲ ἐλέησον, Κύριε ἐλέησον.

Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Túlio Borges March 30, 2010 at 1:03 am

Thank you for posting this moving testimony, Mr. Beer. I am very sorry to hear the news, as I have always wanted to make the acquaintance of Dr. Panichas. I am not sure whether every one of his “pupils” will go on to achieve lasting literary reputations. But I know that his writings left an indelible mark on my way of thinking. And he can count on at least one candle being lit for him in Brazil.

RIP, Dr. George Panichas.

Túlio Borges
Brasília, Brazil

avatar R J Stove March 30, 2010 at 1:19 am

Oh Lord, I’m very sorry indeed to learn this news. He was a man of remarkably varied achievements, perhaps the greatest of which was his diligence in making Russell Kirk’s collected prose known to those (like myself) too young to have met Kirk himself.

avatar Mark T. Mitchell March 30, 2010 at 10:08 am

Jeremy,
Your description of Dr. Panichas’s letters is so true. I still have the three he wrote to me. They are a full page long. As you say, he would first praise the importance of the essay submission (boosting the confidence of a young scholar), then he would go on to indicate the various ways the essay interacts with important thinkers and ideas. A pretty good reading list can be gleaned from these letters. Dr. Panichas was generous in his praise and learned in his correspondence. Though I never met the man in person, his fine letters showed him to be a gentleman. May he rest in peace.

avatar Michael Walsh March 30, 2010 at 3:56 pm

I’m saddened to learn of the death of Dr. Panichas.

I was blessed to have corresponded with him in the early 1990′s after reading his brilliant critical volumes “The Reverent Discipline” and “The Courage of Judgment”.

He sent me a generously inscribed copy of his “Burden of Vision”. His surprising interpretations of D.H. Lawrence and Simone Weil are works that I go back to for nourishment.

As editor of Modern Age, he welcomed the widest expression of traditional conservative thought. His quarterly expositions on the state of the culture could be dark but always counseled perseverance.

“His like will not be there again”-Flann O’Brien

RIP

avatar Bruce Schonfeld April 17, 2010 at 9:08 pm

I imagine that for every person who comments here on how Dr. Panichas touched them and their life at least 10,000 others feel the same way.

What an extraordinary man, what an extraordinary teacher. He was a sage, a seeker and a soulful humanitarian. His classes at University of Maryland were exquisite, each beginning with 7 minutes of dedicated quiet writing. There would be an amazing quote on the blackboard to riff off of or you could write about anything your heart desired. The point was he just wanted to see your pen or pencil in motion. This quote would further serve as the organizing class thesis for the day wherein he would dynamically reference back to it both as it related to “the task at hand” and always in a larger universal context. Rich lectures would ensue, orations containing vast references and footnotes from literature, religion, philosophy, ethics, morality, depths psychology, and best of all his Ageless passion. He not only taught and embodied thematic continuity, he was thematic continuity.
His scope was staggering.

In the classroom, Dr Panichas was the archetypal master teacher. The chemistry was and will always remain simply alchemical; he loved to lecture and educate while we loved to listen and learn.

Much more than a wise scholar who surveyed and conveyed intellectual brilliance, his natural voice possessed a rare combination of characteristics – an intrinsic musicality, compelling rhythm and honest elegance, the result of which was nothing short of poetry.

To you, most kind and wise sir, an eternal toast of balance, order and measure. In a word, and “as it were” …

!!! SOPHROSYNE !!!

With love and sincerity,

Bruce Schonfeld

avatar Thomas Boduch MD November 19, 2012 at 9:40 pm

I met Dr. Panichas when I worked as a page at the Springfield Massachusetts public library from 1969 to 1974. He spent summers in Agawam with his parents and family. He would come to the library each day from 1 to 6 or so. I would help him find books and other research material he needed. We had dinner on several occasions. I left the Springfield area in 1975 to pursue a career in Medicine and lost touch with him. I’m sorry to learn of his passing.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: