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Weight by Jeanette Winterson is a retelling of the tale of Herakles (more commonly known by his Roman name, Hercules), and specifically the nth of his twelve tasks – temporarily relieving Atlas, doomed to forever carry the world on his shoulders, of his heavy burden.

Winterson manages extremely well to breath life and character into what is too often a stale, dusty myth. Herakles is young, brash and arrogant – the stereotypical jock taken to the next level. The long-suffering Atlas, in contrast, is withdrawn and resigned to his life.

By giving us insight into what these heroic figures might actually be thinking, the story suddenly becomes something more. We as readers are given an analogy, a metaphor for our own lives, and the myth is transformed into something immediate and useful.

Reviews of the rest of the Myths series

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