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Weight: The Myth of Atlas and Heracles…
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Weight: The Myth of Atlas and Heracles (Myths, The) (original 2005; edition 2005)

by Jeanette Winterson

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1,047378,051 (3.74)33
Member:jgbell
Title:Weight: The Myth of Atlas and Heracles (Myths, The)
Authors:Jeanette Winterson
Info:Canongate U.S. (2005), Hardcover, 176 pages
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Weight: The Myth of Atlas and Heracles by Jeanette Winterson (2005)

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This was lovely. I enjoyed the mix of Greek mythology and Soviet space exploration and philosophy and musings of the author. The writing was simple but beautiful, of course.
  csoki637 | Nov 27, 2016 |
A short and sweet post-modern re-imagining of the Greek legend of Atlas, who after rebelling against Zeus is condemned to hold the world on his shoulders for eternity. Author Jeanette Winterson deconstructs this theme and infuses it with a number of contemplative tangents on how life can get you down, sometimes even (especially) when you try to grab the reins (hence the 'weight' of the title). This allows for quite a few nuggets of wisdom and demonstrates the timelessness and flexibility of Greek mythology for artistic purposes. Some of the Heracles stuff is a bit jarring – with rape and masturbation scenes aplenty – and certainly not stuff you ever saw Kevin Sorbo do (my childhood would have been quite different if I had). But these crude episodes do not diminish all the good things happening in this book. And it is a shame – and a little bit ironic – that a book entitled Weight did not have a hundred or so more leaves of paper to really flesh out Winterson's ideas." ( )
  MikeFutcher | Jun 3, 2016 |
In this book, part of the Canongate Myth Series, Jeanette Winterson offers a re-telling of the Atlas myth. In the original story, Atlas is punished for waging war against the gods; he is to support the weight of the kosmos for all of eternity. The author tells this story, then offers a slightly more modern re-telling of the Greek myth itself, then re-tells it in the context of her own life, then offers a scientific re-telling. Through this multi-purpose re-telling, the author explores the idea that stories are universal and change to fit the teller and the listener. Near the end of the book she summarizes - "If I only understood that the globe itself, complete, perfect, unique, is a story. Science is a story. History is a story. These are the stories we tell ourselves to make ourselves come true". I found it fascinating and beautifully written, with characters that are at once familiar and also relevant to our modern society. I absolutely loved it! ( )
  BooksForYears | Mar 31, 2016 |
In this book, part of the Canongate Myth Series, Jeanette Winterson offers a re-telling of the Atlas myth. In the original story, Atlas is punished for waging war against the gods; he is to support the weight of the kosmos for all of eternity. The author tells this story, then offers a slightly more modern re-telling of the Greek myth itself, then re-tells it in the context of her own life, then offers a scientific re-telling. Through this multi-purpose re-telling, the author explores the idea that stories are universal and change to fit the teller and the listener. Near the end of the book she summarizes - "If I only understood that the globe itself, complete, perfect, unique, is a story. Science is a story. History is a story. These are the stories we tell ourselves to make ourselves come true". I found it fascinating and beautifully written, with characters that are at once familiar and also relevant to our modern society. I absolutely loved it! ( )
  BooksForYears | Mar 31, 2016 |
Weight is part of the Cannongate Myth Series. It is a re-imagining of the myth of Atlas and Heracles. I have really enjoyed reading the books in this series and Weight was no exception. Winterson examines the isolation and loneliness of Atlas as he is stuck with the weight of the Kosmos on his shoulders. He is visited by Heracles and given a chance to have a break from his burden. Herecules is unlike the heroic Heracles normally presented; instead he is a womanizing drunk. Winterson expands the story into the present day and tells what happens to Atlas when, unknown to him the gods fade away replaced by other religious beliefs. The author also breaks into the story on occasion to offer some self reflection and comparison of her life with that of Atlas and his burden. There were times when I really loved the direction that Winterson took with Atlas, and there were other times when I found the book too short. ( )
  Cora-R | Jan 13, 2016 |
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Epigraph
Dedication
For Deborah Warner, who lifted the weight.
First words
Choice of subject, like choice of lover, is an intimate decision.
~ Introduction
The free man never thinks of escape.
~ I want to tell the story again
My father was Poseidon. My mother was the Earth.
~ the story
Quotations
These are the stories we tell ourselves to make ourselves come true.
Why?

Why not just put it down?
Let me crawl out from under this world I have made.
It doesn't need me any more.

Strangely, I don't need it either. I don't need the weight. Let it go. There are reservations and regrets, but let it go.

I want to tell the story again.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0676974171, Hardcover)

The story of Atlas and Heracles

Atlas knows how it feels to carry the weight of the world; but why, he asks himself, does it have to be carried at all? In Weight — visionary and inventive, yet completely believable and relevant to the questions we ask ourselves every day — Winterson’s skill in turning the familiar on its head to show us a different truth is put to stunning effect.


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. Rewritten. The recurring language motif of Weight is “I want to tell the story again.”

My work is full of Cover Versions. I like to take stories we think we know and record them differently. In the retelling comes a new emphasis or bias, and the new arrangement of the key elements demands that fresh material be injected into the existing text.


Weight moves far away from the simple story of Atlas’s punishment and his temporary relief when Hercules takes the world off his shoulders. I wanted to explore loneliness, isolation, responsibility, burden, and freedom too, because my version has a very particular end not found elsewhere.
—from Jeanette Winterson’s Foreword to Weight

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:02:53 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Atlas knows how it feels to carry the weight of the world, but why, he asks himself, does it have to be carried at all? And when you have eternity to ponder this question, the brief reprieve offered by Heracles - the only man strong enough to borrow the burden - can force you to demand an answer from the Gods.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 3 descriptions

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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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