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With her typical wit and verve, Jeanette Winterson brings Atlas into the 21st century. Simultaneously, she asks her own difficult questions about the nature of choice and coercion, and how we forge our own destiny. Visionary and inventive, yet completely believable and relevant to our lives today, Winterson's skill in turning the familiar on its head and showing us a different truth is once more put to dazzling effect.
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By Matthew Simmons on 10-03-12
Great Philsophical Re-telling of a Myth
Weight by Jeanette Winterson is the story of Hercules and Atlas. In the story we are introduced to a Hercules that is the ultimate male Id running around the Ancient World - fornicating, masturbating, and killing - unburdened. He is juxtaposed to Atlas, the immortal Titan, a creature of all burden. The story probes the interactions between these two figures for all their philosophical value. For Jeanette Winterson, Atlas is a deeply tortured individual facing a punishment disproportionate to his perceived crime. His burden is only briefly lifted by a reluctant and opportunistic Hercules during his quest for the Golden Apples.
Winterson manages to do what any writer must do with a story we all know - which is arguably all stories - offer a fresh lens through which we perceive the world and the myth. For Winterson this is the crucial point of story. In the introduction Winterson says the Cannongate Myth Series - of which this is part - is a opportunity for "Re-telling stories for their own sakes and finding in them permanent truths about human nature. All we can do is keep telling the stories, hoping that someone will hear. Hoping that in the noisy echoing nightmare of endlessly breaking news and celebrity gossip other voices may be heard speaking of the life of the mind and the soul's journey." For Winterson the Weight is the necessity of story.
I find myself continually revisiting passages from this book from time to time on audio - I do not own a hard copy of the book. I am always astonished by the honesty and force of the myth.
If this sounds like a book you would be interested in I would highly recommend it.
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