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Weight (Canongate Myths #3)

3.81 of 5 stars 3.81  ·  rating details  ·  3,011 ratings  ·  288 reviews
When Jeanette Winterson was invited to participate in Canongate's Myths series, she realized that she had chosen already: "The story of Atlas holding up the world was in my mind before the telephone call had ended." Winterson had always believed that Atlas's question (Why does the world have to be carried at all?) warranted a better answer than Heracles' trick reprieve. In...more
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Published December 1st 2007 by Grove/Atlantic, Inc. (first published January 1st 2005)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Paquita Maria Sanchez
This book is a disease-ridden hooker in a business suit. It's a sand pail made of tissue paper. All pretense and no heart, this retelling of centuries old myths features heaping spoonfuls of stereotypes, cliched metaphors, sexist commentary, baseless pomp, and comically bad dialogue. Who tells a person that 'you're my fate...drop dead gorgeous'? Anyone in their right mind would have maniacally cackled in his face rather than let him ejaculate all over them. She's Hera, for fucksake. HERA. She kn...more
Donna
Weight: The Myth of Atlas and Hercules, Jeanette Winterson. New York: Cannongate, 2005. Hardcover, $18.00 ISBN 1-84195-718-6

Have you ever read someone you're a fan of and thought; there's no way to do it better than this? For me it's Jeanette Winterson, her lyricism, her wide flung knowledge of mythology and science, and humanness and above all else, her risk taking. At the end of each of her books I walk away feeling like she’s left everything on the page the way an athlete leaves everything on...more
Nikki
As always, with Jeannette Winterson's work, there are parts of this that caught at me -- phrases, quotable bites, a scene here and there -- but for the most part I was underwhelmed. More underwhelmed than usual, perhaps. It had a very light, dismissive tone that just didn't work for me, and the characterisation of Heracles as a big idiot just... isn't anything new. That exact character has been given so many names.

Also, weird sex-stuff between Heracles and Hera. Just, what? And weird interludes...more
stephanie
i've been disappointed in winterson lately, but i have always loved her best when she is messing with stories people already know.

she did not let me down. it wasn't fabulous (i could have done without all the scenes of heracles' prick dripping) but the story itself . . . there were lines that made me sooo happy and wish i had written them myself.

i loved the ending especially. laika gets saved! atlas is a fabulous character, and i loved hera in this. i want to read everything in the canongate m...more
Chris
I never really liked Hercules. Okay, I liked the Kevin Sorbo series, but Hercules wasn't my favorite character, and Sorbo's Hercules wasn't the Greek Hercules, not really. There was something about Hercules I never liked. Maybe because he was so self-centered. Maybe because he killed horses. Maybe because I always liked Hera and wanted to take her side in everything. I don't know. I prefered Troy, Jason, Altanta, anything but Hercules.

Winterson makes me feel something about Hercules, not like, t...more
Sam Woodward
"[Atlas] turned his head &, just for a moment he didn't see the universe balanced there on his back. It was himself he was carrying, colossal & weighty, little Atlas desperately holding up the Atlas of the world."

We all know the gist of the story - after failing in his struggle to attain freedom from the Gods, the Atlas is condemned to carry the weight of the world on his shoulders. But what exactly was he struggling for in the first place? Even he is no longer sure - merely that "what b...more
Dan
Ugh. What an awful book.

The author wants to tell the story of Heracles and Atlas. Cool. Apparently she thinks she's the first person to make to connection between this ancient tale and the story of Jesus, insofar as interrupting the story with an entire chapter explaining the whole "bearing the weight of the world" emotion. (Though, curiously, she seems to have forgotten about St. Christopher).

She also seems to have learned a new dirty word: "prick". Since Winterson has apparently decided to tu...more
Nesa Sivagnanam
This book is part of Canongate's 'Myth' series, where several writers retell a myth of their own choosing.

Weight, is a "cover version" of the myth of Atlas and Heracles. The Titan Atlas, whose punishment it is to carry the world, literally, on his shoulders, is enlisted by the super-hero Heracles to help retrieve some golden apples, guarded by a dreadful serpent, from the Gardens of the Hesperides. To free Atlas for the task, Heracles must temporarily take over the burden of supporting the worl...more
Mary
Jan 09, 2008 Mary rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of lyrical prose
Poets across the world groan at the sheer injustice of Jeanette Winterson's ability with words. If ever anyone could turn a phrase, Winterson can, and so as always, I was thoroughly immersed in her language and her compelling take on a story I thought I knew. Unfortunately, - also as usual - I had trouble relating with major aspects of her characters. (For instance, the fact that Heracles is a serious sex-fiend.) Although I tend to find myself wishing Winterson would tell different stories than...more
Rebecca
I don't like how she played fast and loose with the myths, because instead of rich, layered, and complicated, her versions felt sketchy, thin, and declarative. There are many stand-alone sentences that announce things: Even a goddess is still a woman, I am not a Freudian, Men are unfaithful by nature. Instead of telling us about people in a crisis, she uses her weight to slam us around with her single sentences, each highlighted and set on a separate pedestal. Suitable for framing--I mean, quoti...more
Jeanette (jema)
Retelling of the myth of Atlas, with some Heracles and Prometeus and Hera and Zeus thrown in as well as Laika - the russian space dog. It is a book that had passages that I had to read out aloud cause of the poetry in them, and some rather embarrassing passages I skim-read fast.
It's a short book, a quick read, filled with guts, blood, semen, milk and stars.
Julie
When I read Margaret Atwood’s The Penelopiad, I learned that it was part of a series of modern reworkings of myths, and of course I was interested in reading the others. The problem is that I picked up this book thinking of Margaret Atwood, and it was not written by Margaret Atwood. I had trouble getting into it and ended up skimming much of it.
Dergrossest
I read this book with some trepidation since most remakes of the classics are forgettable, if not insufferable. This is the exception.

Atlas and Heracles are two of the most compelling figures in classic Greek Mythology and this modern re-telling of their stories only makes them more so, although you really need to know their stories before reading this to appreciate what the author has accomplished. She cleverly weaves a scientific thread into their stories to help make them both more modern and...more
Zoë
"The strata of sedimentary rock are like the pages of a book, each with a record of contemporary life written on it. Unfortunately, the record is far from complete."

Weight: The Myth of Atlas and Heracles is the first book I have read by Jeanette Winterson. It is unusual in that it is a part of the Myth series, in which contemporary writers (like Winterson and Atwood) reinvent ancient myths- tell the stories again. Weight, as its title indicates, is the Greek myth of Atlas who after leading a r...more
B.R. Sanders
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 of this slim little volume, or the depth to it. The book is really about the way we use narrative to construct ourselves and our identities.

The two central characters of the book are Atlas, the titan monstrously strong enough to support the entire cosmos, and Heracles, the half-human half-divine hero...more
Luis
La mayor parte de este libro cuenta la historia de cuando Atlas fue revelado de sostener el mundo mientras ayudaba a Heracles a completar una de sus pruebas. El grueso de la historia se adorna al principio con unas pinceladas de la situación de Atlas y al final con más hechos de Heracles hasta su muerte, reflexiones de la autora y un cierre totalmente inventado.

Lo que me desconcierta es que no entiendo muy bien el propósito del libro,quizás porque no he leído nada más de la autora. Si quería exp...more
Lizzie
I got this at the same time as The Penelopiad , and started to read it then, but put it down halfway. (I almost never do that!)

This time around I liked it perfectly ok. It is kind of rambly, but often pretty. Eventually I took away one whole star for all the times I had to read about Heracles's erections. No thank you. Then, I got to the chapter "Leaning on the Limits of Myself," a tiny 4-page section in the middle, and I put the star back. That chapter is extraordinary. I didn't expect the fram...more
Sparring
"I built a walled garden, a temenos, a sacred space. I lifted the huge stones with my hands and piled them carefully, as a goatherd would, leaving tiny gaps to let the wind through. A solid wall is easily collapsed...A wall well built with invisible spaces will allow the winds that rage against it to pass through. When the earth underneath it trembles, the spaces make room for movement and settlement. The wall stands. The walls strength is not in the stones but in the spaces between the stones....more
Emilia Robin
I read this for my Classical Mythology course, as I'm required to read 2 books related to myth. I had high hopes and was disappointed. I was just... confused and underwhelmed by this. At times it felt as though I was reading poetry I just couldn't understand. The introduction had some beautiful lines, but I was very confused by Heracles' dialogue in particular-- his modern, colloquial, presumably British dialect felt shoehorned into an otherwise serious story. I wasn't as bothered by his sexual...more
Linda
Though it wasn't completely terrible (I liked how Winterson talks about existence as weight, and links the myth to her own past and Laika of course), it's still difficult to imagine a more frustrating adaptation. I really like the idea of the Canongate Myth series but of the five Canongate works that I've read thus far, three (Atwood, Winterson, Ali Smith) have been pretty dreadful and a large part of that is the didacticism (Ugresic also fell into this trap, cheapening her book which was otherw...more
Ана Хелс
Заиграването с митовете, приказките и образите – еталони на цяло едно видово самосъзнание винаги трябва да се прави внимателно, методично и с чувство за хумор, без да се омърсява с реалност, възможност и ежедневие. Е, Джанет Уинтърсън туй явно не го е знаела, и е създала една поне малка книжка, съдържаща достойно тъжен текст, успял да ме поотврати с придаването на едно торба в повече хуманизъм у образите на богове и герои, които май им беше работата да ни вдъхновяват, влюбват и лекичко плашат ме...more
Jennifer
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 quantum physics as it did), I stopped. They all started to feel like the same book, and it wasn't a book I wanted to read anymore, so I walked away.

Then I went to the bookstore to buy used copies of books I'd loved to give away at Books, Beer, & Pizza. In addition to a few Winterson books I had lov...more
Jill
I keep coming back to Jeanette Winterson mainly because she can write brilliantly, beautifully, with a prose style uniquely hers. But the key word there is can -- because she doesn't always. Sometimes I read her work and it is untouchable, flawlessly intense. Other times -- and Weight would be one of those -- it's as if she's on the threshold of something magnificent, but doesn't...quite...get there.

I'm doing Greek mythology with my gr. 7s, and as is often the case, work bled into life and I sta...more
Terence
Apr 14, 2008 Terence rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Terence by: Winterson interview on Bill Moyer's Journal
One of the marks of an "important" book is that you know you'll have to read it several times to figure out everything it has to say to you. Weight is one of those books. In my first reading of the book, I think the most important theme I pulled from it is that people make their own fates. Both Atlas and Heracles could have put down their burdens and walked away at any time.

Now I'll have to read it again to figure out how Laika fits into everything.
Anwen Hayward
What a disappointing book. Almost masturbatory in some areas, and I don't just mean the extended bits where Heracles strums his own trumpet - you can actually imagine Winterson writing this and thinking to herself 'oh yeah, that's for the academics, that's the stuff'. Winterson clearly fancies herself up there with the greatest philosophers of all eras, and the texts she produces just don't merit that belief. This book pertains to discuss Atlas' burden as being not a physical burden, but more a...more
Alison Smith
Artistically designed beautiful little book. A re-working of the classical myth of Atlas, with the labours of Hercules tossed in for good measure. I enjoyed this more than I thought I would. P.S. : Mercifully, its a short book. But enjoyable - try something different.
Daniel
Enjoyable, if a little wanky: it's a good, short read that tells an old, excellent story; it could have done without the bits of memoir, but the bits of science are very good. "Weight" is worthwhile and poetic, it's written well, mostly, and I'm glad I was curious about it!
Audra (Unabridged Chick)
Disappointing. While I consider myself a rabid Winterson fan, Weight left me cold. I am a bit biased; I *loved* Anne Carson's 'Autobiography of Red' which retells the Hercules/Gerymon myth. Compared to that, Winterson's retelling falls very, very flat.
Kate
tricked into reading this by a soft blankie and a cool, sunny day. took me 3 hours to read cover to cover.

winterson is my dream of communication, with myself and others. and, i really liked her vulgar depiction of mythology.
selena
Jun 21, 2007 selena rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who like beautifully written books.
i loved this book. it was another take on the myth of atlas and heracles. it was written so beautifully that it was impossible to put down. it felt like poetry instead of a re-telling of a myth.

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Novelist Jeanette Winterson was born in Manchester, England in 1959. She was adopted and brought up in Accrington, Lancashire, in the north of England. Her strict Pentecostal Evangelist upbringing provides the background to her acclaimed first novel, Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, published in 1985. She graduated from St Catherine's College, Oxford, and moved to London where she worked as an assi...more
More about Jeanette Winterson...
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“I am good at walking away. Rejection teaches you how to reject.” 354 likes
“What is it that you contain? The dead. Time. Light patterns of millennia opening in your gut. Every minute, in each of you, a few million potassium atoms succumb to radioactive decay. The energy that powers these tiny atomic events has been locked inside potassium atoms ever since a star-sized bomb exploded nothing into being. Potassium, like uranium and radium, is a long-lived radioactive nuclear waste of the supernova bang that accounts for you.

Your first parent was a star.”
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