Over the past fifteen years, I’ve been working on translating various parts of the works of Peter the Venerable (and others). As a historian, not a translator, I generally work on these things with an eye to a project I am already working on but not complete translations. This means I have translations scattered all over my hard drive –files with extracts on friendship or on the Cistercians– but rarely do I put them all in one place. And I only have bits of most texts. Even when I am working on a project, it is much easier to skim a text for the most useful parts and then put together a proper translation only of material which is most pertinent.
Today I have have finished putting together all my translations in one place (I think – I might still find others I have squirrelled away in some subfolder). They show mixed results – something things are more polished – I have used Raoul of Sully’s Life of Peter quite a bit so it is complete and generally well done (for a first draft). For the length Two books on Miracles or his Letter Collection often I just have short extracts or the introductory address. I suspect many other historians who work on Peter for other projects have similar chunks of text which they have worked through. My hope is someday they feel like sharing them here to bulk up the translation corpus – there is so much to do, I will never get to it all.
As I move forward with this project, I am confronted with the idea that while I value the goal of giving accessibility to Peter’s writings, I am not a translator, have no background in translation and so have no clear idea how to go about doing this properly. In time, I hope to come up with an methodology/ theoretical underpinning for this project. But wonder how others do this? Does one (as I hope to) just “get on with it” or do you take steps to think about what the translation should be like beforehand? I think this is my current problem – that I want to get this done for practical reasons but feel like I lack the necessary expertise.