Deyan Kyuranov in a tribute to the memory of Philip Panayotov

  • 15.06.2023
  • Deyan Kyuranov
Prof. Philip Panayotov

The nephew of the late prof. Philip Panayotov - Deyan Kyuranov, published a remembrance of him in

Philip Panayotov (1933-2023) passed away on June 14 this year. There's a lot on the internet about his books, his professorship in journalism, his interest in our national psychology; there's a lot to write, and there's someone to write it. And I write as his nephew.

Thus begins the remembrance of prof. Philip Panayotov by his nephew Deyan Kyuranov, published in

He entered our "tribe" in the traditional ritual when he married my aunt Svetla Panova 67 years ago. Since then, we live - forgive me, lived - together, first in one apartment, then on adjacent floors, calling ourselves "our household."   

It was not easy for Uncle Philip to be among this generally gloomy tribe, inclined to take the world too seriously and to see grounds for radical criticism! But he went about with a smile, looking at the world super-curiously, perceiving reasons to look at it even more curiously, and gently taking for granted surly fellows like us. And he was constantly in a position of an intermediary because we were all the time quarreling and always on very principled grounds. But we loved him, without even suspecting how grateful we should be for his daily life humor and this active kindness.

Yet, with all his softness and warmth, he firmly refused to accept being deprived of his human right to curiosity, laughter and optimism. That is why, as a student of archaeology, he became - not a natural father, but a faithful "uncle" to (the anonymous student poet of the 1950’s and 60’s) Trendaphil Akatsiev. That is why he produced his series of "books-resurrections", pulling out of the propaganda oblivion such knotty personalities as Dimitar Naydenov, Joseph Herbst, Krustyo Rakovsky and Ekaterina Karavelova. That is why he organized the second sociological survey in Bulgarian history - and the first in our political history, in which, along with the memorized eulogies, honest critical voices sounded; and he dared to publish them in his book "Self-Portrait of the Generation" (1965). That is why he wrote his apologia of the anti-Stalinist thaw, “In the Land of the Soviets - 30 Years Later” (1967). It is in dialogue with the book of Assen Zlatarov, who left himself be lied to by Stalin 30 years earlier, and Philip Panayotov, who had tasted the so-called “real socialism”, pushed through in this book the first publication in our country of the original text of the dreaded "camp" poem of Mandelstam - the Soviet poet killed by Stalin. This is why he left as editor-in-chief of Youth magazine when they began to press him to publish praise for the crushing of the Prague Spring of 1968.

Since then he has taken up the history of journalism - but he also founded the ABC, which has become the most interesting newspaper in the country.

All his life he supported and cared for his brother, the unknown great artist Angel Panayotov; he collected and published an album of his works.

In recent years his smile began to disappear - and his human kindness grew stronger. The attempted assassination of Ukraine was crushing him, every day, with the radio news. He could no longer see well and wanted me to read my writings. And he was becoming more and more in agreement with them. It seemed he had picked up something of the "tribe's" radicalism. He was only put off by our incessant questioning about people and events we all knew, and it was clear to him: we were ostensibly looking to him as an invaluable source of information, but more important was our enjoyment of his sweet wit. And to the end he never lost his ease to make funny improvisations in measured speech.

I'm grateful to have had him in my life!

... I am five years old, my beloved Aunt takes me to the "Freedom Park" (Grandma used to call it "Boris’s Garden"), but then we find ourselves in front of a tall, yellow, corner building with rounded balconies. (The one at the beginning of "Hristo Smirnenski" street in Lozenets.) And Auntie starts whistling (!) some melody and raises her eyes, and there, on the top balcony, some dad shows up, dark against the yellow background, and they both laugh happily. That's how I first saw him, and that's how I remember him.