Weight: The Myth of Atlas and Heracles

Front Cover
Knopf Canada, 2006 - Atlas (Greek deity) - 168 pages
15 Reviews
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


From the Hardcover edition.

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Review: Weight: The Myth of Atlas and Heracles (Canongate Myths #3)

User Review  - BR Sanders - Goodreads

Weight by Jeanette Winterson, part of the Canongate Myths collection along with Atwood's Penelopiad, is a deconstructed retelling of the myth of Atlas. That sentence alone fails to capture the sweep ... Read full review

Review: Weight: The Myth of Atlas and Heracles (Canongate Myths #3)

User Review  - Jennifer - Goodreads

For quite a few years, I loved Jeanette Winterson. I bought every book. I wrote quotes in notebooks, on my walls. Then sometime around Gut Symmetries (which I should have loved the most, involving ... Read full review

About the author (2006)

A novelist whose honours include England’s Whitbread Prize, and the American Academy’s E. M. Forster Award, as well as the Prix d’argent at the Cannes Film Festival, Jeanette Winterson burst onto the literary scene as a very young woman in 1985 with Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit. Her subsequent novels, including Sexing the Cherry, The Passion, Written on the Body, and The PowerBook, have also gone on to receive great international acclaim. Her latest novel is Lighthousekeeping, heralded as "a brilliant, glittering, piece of work" (The Independent). She lives in London and the Cotswolds.


From the Hardcover edition.

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