Silvia Antosa

"My Monstrous Burden": Queering the Myth, Rewriting the Self in Jeanette Winterson's Weight

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: Autobiography; Trauma; Boundaries; Desire; Queer.

In "Weight: The Myth of Atlas and Heracles" (2005), Jeanette Winterson reimagines the heroic stories of Atlas and Heracles by giving them new meanings and forms. The novel alternates between a third-person narrator, who tells Atlas' and Heracles' stories, and a first-person narrator who represents the writer herself, in turn interwoven with Atlas' first-person voice. I show how the novel is made up of multiple layers that subvert and transgress the borders of literary genres such as autobiography, epic tale, fantasy and historical fiction through the adoption of myth. I explore how the trio of narrative voices and the deconstruction of canonical literary genres allow Winterson to unveil the multi-directional process of identity-making and to reshape the identity of the narrating 'I' as a way of overcoming trauma. She alternates between identifying with/and differentiating herself from the two male mythic heroes, thus queering gender and sexual binaries. I investigate the symbolic meanings of the two mythic characters, and their influence on the construction of the narrator.

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