July 6, 2006

Condemned to shoulder the world “for ever” by the gods he dared defy, freedom seems unattainable to Atlas. But then he receives an unexpected visit from Heracles, the one man strong enough to share the burden, and it seems they can strike a bargain that might release him …

Jeanette Winterson asks difficult questions about the nature of choice and coercion in her dazzling retelling of the myth of Atlas and Heracles.

Visionary and inventive, believable and intimate, Weight turns the familiar on its head to show us ourselves in a new light.

 ‘A touching meditation on the difficult journey to self-knowledge, and also extremely funny, communicating verve and wit’ Guardian

‘An original and challenging approach … profound and provocative’ Daily Mail

‘Inspired by a Titan, she begins appropriately on a titanic scale … bringing her musings home to the human scale’ Sunday Times

‘Winterson produces some exquisitely filmic prose that is almost mythopoetic’  Independent

Weight was another of those excitements that come from somewhere else. Publishers sometimes have great ideas. Jamie Byng, the passionate impresario behind Canongate, called me to tell me about his Myth series. Basically, lots of writers from all over the world, writing around a myth that meant something to them. Pick a myth. Any myth.

I knew straight away that mine would be the story of Atlas and Hercules because I have an Atlas Complex. I think I have to carry everything. And like Hercules, I’ll take on any task but I can be a bit of a thug.

The great thing about cover versions is that you can do what you like providing you keep faith with the original. I have always worried about Laika, that little dog in space sent up in a Soviet Sputnik. She got a lethal injection somewhere in her days without gravity, but she will have suffered, and I guess her tinny craft is still up there somewhere, lost in the silence of the universe.

In my story I have Atlas rescue her. Now he has something to love. And he learns to put down his burden of the world.

I was crying when I wrote those scenes. Typing with one hand and the other over my eyes.

Weight is a little favourite of mine.

Publication: July 06, 2006

Publisher: Canongate Books Ltd