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