When he died in 1972, Aleksandr Vampilov (b.1937) was the most significant young playwright in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). He moved beyond Socialist Realism in both the questions he posed and the techniques he used. His plays are firmly grounded in Soviet reality, yet address universal and timeless themes - personal relations, moral purity, one's place in society, and the meaning of life. The first study in English of Vampilov's writings, this book argues that Vampilov was both an innovator in Soviet Russian drama of his day and a precursor of trends that developed in the 1970s and 1980s. Vampilov's work generated many debates because of the fundamentally subversive nature of its contents and its devices. This book makes a major dramatist of the twentieth century better known to the Western world and is of value to those interested in contemporary theatre as well as to Russian specialists.