Jantar publishes high quality English translations of literature written in the languages of Central and East Europe. Accompanying each text is an introduction written by an academic or critic that aims to explain the wider cultural context for the benefit of non-specialist readers.
The name jantar (pronounced yan-tarr) is the Czech and Slovak for ‘amber’. However, it was consciously borrowed in the nineteenth century, that is, during the Czech National Revival, from the Russian yantàr’ (shared also with Ukrainian). This in turn is believed to have been borrowed earlier in history from a local dialect form of the Lithuanian word giñtaras. (Lithuania is, remember, the major source of amber in Europe and a neighbour of Russia.) The word’s ultimate origin is uncertain, but it is thought to be of Finno-Ugrian origin, as attested by the Hungarian gyánta ‘resin, amber’.
This geographical spread goes rather well with our aspiration to publish a variety of Central and East European works of literature that are in their way ‘trapped in amber’ and awaiting discovery.