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.