The Portrait as Meth od and Practice: Tracking Translators
This article describes the method and practice of the portrait as a means of acquiring a more profound appreciation for the complex values, goals and work process of literary translators. Based on empirical research, the portrait method brings together biographical material on the translator, bibliographical data on his/her translations, writings, and other texts or interviews on translation, information on his/her professional implication and activities, and details concerning his/her work process and relations with writers and publishers. However, the over-arching goal of the portrait is not simply to provide a compilation of the translator’s achievements, but to make inferences, through a holistic approach to the data, about his/her underlying motivations and aspirations, and by so doing, to better understand the meaning he/she attributes to his/her work. Portraits of Émilie du Châtelet, Hannah Josephson and Patricia Claxton illustrate how the open-ended portrait methodology can enlarge our understanding of the translation process.