"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 Heracles 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.
Comment: The second in eries, see 'A Short History of Myth' (in this issue) for more information.
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Born in Manchester, UK in 1959 and adopted into a firmly religious family, Jeanette Winterson studied at Oxford University. Her first novel, Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, was published in 1985 to tremendous acclaim, and she later adapted it for television. Since then she has written numerous novels, including Sexing the Cherry, The Passion, and Written on the Body. She has won several prizes including the Whitbread Prize, and the Prix d'argent at the Cannes Film Festival.
Jeanette Winterson: jeh-NET WIN-ter-son
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