Weight was an interesting retelling of the Atlas and Heracles myth. Jeanette Winterson evokes real sympathy for the plight of Atlas. Did he really deserve his fate? Or was he a victim of circumstance? Of the gods’ whim? Heracles isn’t the benevolent hero that many think. He is crass and selfish. Some may think that he deserves his fate.
Though they each are descended from gods, they are not gods. Are they even immortal? They are not infallible. Each makes mistakes. Are they victims of circumstance? Do they really have free will? The “weight” that Atlas carries, is it merely symbolic? I think it is the weight of his worries, his concern for the earth, his daughters, his overgrown garden. To put aside the weight on your shoulders and walk away, the freedom.
Jeanette Winterson’s short novel (it was barely over 150 pages) makes you think about all these questions, while providing a fantastic story. I think this, like The Penlopliad not only makes you question the interpretation of the myth, but the life around you. I’ve enjoyed these two books in the myth series; I can’t wait to read more. I’m also thinking about picking up another of Winterson’s books. I’m eager to see what comes next.