Stoic Decay

pictures / projects by gElm / Lem de Grosnpreg

Illustrations for Isaac Bashevis Singer's Collected Stories

Gimpel's Dream

One night, when the period of mourning was done, as I lay dreaming on the flour sacks, there came the Spirit of Evil himself and said to me, "Gimpel, why do you sleep?" → Gimpel the Fool

Before the Ruin

Amid thick forests and deep swamps, on the slope of a hill, level at the summit, lay the village of Frampol. → The Gentleman from Cracow

This is the first non-digital pen and ink drawing I've made in quite a long time. My hand hurts. An odd thing: Working on a computer has become so ingrained that when I drew a pen stroke I didn't like my left hand actually reached out instinctively to hit ctrl-z on a non-existent keyboard hard-wired inside my head.


Her left pigtail was tied with a white ribbon. → Joy

I failed to capture the sadness and beauty of this tale, instead showing only a complacent eeriness.

Abba on His Bench

He loved to sit and look at the tall white birches, which trembled even when no breeze blew… → The Little Shoemakers

Nathan & Roise

At times, they did not even speak, but sat silently, holding hands and weeping. → The Unseen

The Wedding Night

Dr. Fischelson trembled and the Ethics dropped from his hands. → The Spinoza of Market Street

A Cry Was Torn From Every Throat

Many feared that Lise would collapse and spoil their fun but she was apparently determined to accept her punishment in all its bitterness. → The Destruction of Kreshev

Too Terrified to Utter a Sound

There are secrets that the heart cannot reveal to the lips. They are carried to the grave. → Taibele and Her Demon

The Bus Ride

We rode near a lake surrounded by groups of flamingos airing their wings, and the water mirrored their long beaks and pink feathers. → Alone

A Cold and Windy Day

They continued to walk until they reached the pine forest, not turning back until dusk when it was time for the evening prayer. → Yentl the Yeshiva Boy

Into Darkness

One day, while Zeidel was sitting, studying a faded manuscript in the library at Crakow, everything went dark before his eyes. At first he thought dusk had fallen and asked why the candles had not been lit. But when a monk told him that the day was still bright, he realized he had gone blind. → Zeidlus the Pope

I Suck on the Letters and Feed Myself

I found a Yiddish storybook between two broken barrels in the house which once belonged to Velvel the barrelmaker. I sit there, the last of the demons. → The Last Demon


... the snow had been falling all night and had blanketed the house up to the windows and barricaded the door. → Short Friday