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Weight: The Myth of Atlas & Heracles

Text Myth Series

Jeanette Winterson

  • The Titan Atlas has led a failed rebellion against the gods of Olympus and is condemned to bear the weight of the earth and the heavens for eternity. When Heracles is required, as one of his twelve labours, to steal the golden apples of life he seeks out Atlas and proposes a bargain: he will shoulder the world temporarily if the Titan will bring him the fruit. Enticed by the prospect of even a short-lived freedom, Atlas agrees and an uneasy partnership is born.

    With typical wit and verve, Jeanette Winterson brings Atlas’ story into the twenty-first century and peppers her retelling with thorny questions—about the nature of choice and coercion and about how we forge our own destiny. In Weight, Winterson’s skill in turning the familiar on its head and showing us a different truth is once more put to dazzling effect.

    In reference to her reworking of the tale of Atlas, Jeanette Winterson commented that, ‘When I was asked to choose a myth to write about, I realized I had chosen already. The story of Atlas holding up the world was in my mind before the telephone call had ended. If the call had not come, perhaps I would never have written the story, but when the call did come, that story was waiting to be written. Re-written.’

    The recurring language motif of Weight is ‘I want to tell the story again.’

    Jeanette Winterson
    About the Author

    Jeanette Winterson’s first novel, Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit won the Whitbread prize for Best First Novel. Since then she has published seven other novels, including The Passion, Written on the Body and The PowerBook, a collection of short stories, The World and Other Places, a book of essays, Art Objects and the children’s book, The King of...

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    Text publication date:
    21 June 2012
    AU Price:
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