Maestro was the first novel published by Peter Goldsworthy in 1989. Goldsworthy grew up in various areas of Australia completing his secondary education in Darwin. He graduated in Medicine from the University of Adelaide in 1974. Goldsworthy has been awarded various awards in literature and stage craft and has composed not only in the prose form but also in the poetic form and as a music composer for the stage.
The HSC syllabus [pic], texts prescription list [pic] and rubric [pic] require you to engage with a number of aspects in this module. These are: • develop an awareness of language to understand how our perceptions of and relationships with others and the world are shaped in written, spoken and visual language • explore the ways the images we see and/or visualise in texts are created • consider how the forms and language of different texts affect interpretation and shape meaning • organise, develop and express your ideas using language appropriate to audience, purpose and form.
Keller’s approach to teaching Paul is tightly structured. “You will learn each note by next week. Then I will teach you to fit them together. I will teach you the music.” Paul’s learning experience about life is much like this because he sees the parts individually but takes a considerable time to put them altogether. The structure of the novel parallels this approach as, like Paul, we learn about the characters, particularly Keller, in pieces and are only able to build the complete picture at the end. Goldsworthy provides a table of contents with the sections of the novel labelled. The second section is called ‘Intermezzo’ which is a short piece of music that is performed between longer movements of an extended musical composition, usually for solo piano. While this introduces the idea of music within the table of contents the other sections are time and place based.
Some language features to look for in the text are:
• First person narrative
• Truncated sentences
• Poetic style
Paul’s reflection after Keller’s death allows him to conclude that although his was a ‘foolish, innocent world, a world of delusion and feeling and ridiculous dreams’ he was happy with it. Keller’s death has provided him the opportunity to review his relationship with Keller and create a memoir to stand as monument to his maestro. From the beginning of the novel we see Paul as a witty and clever teenager who appears arrogant at times but who is also self-deprecating which makes him appealing. Paul is cultured and educated but able to adapt to be accepted as is evident in his relationship with the members of the band,Rough Stuff. He is the naive narrator who provides images through poetic descriptions. Each of the images present in the novel is seen through the eyes of the young adult, Paul. Keller has a specific approach to teaching Paul in that he requires Paul to learn ‘each note by next week. Then I will teach you to fit them together. I will teach you the music.’ Paul’s learning experiences about life are similar because he sees the parts individually but takes a considerable time to put them altogether. This is evident with Paul’s voyeuristic experience in the library and his knowledge about Keller and his past. The structure of the novel parallels this episodic approach because we are shown the individual parts but it takes the full length of the novel to see the whole picture.
Keller is introduced in the first lines of the novel through a disjointed, harsh description using metaphors which create an unpleasant but contradictory image of the ‘pitted, sun-coarsened skin’ and the ‘moist, wobbling jellies’ for eyes and ‘the suit: white linen, freshly pressed’. The contrast of the ‘boozer’s...
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