Although Russian and Western critics have recognized Aleksandr Vampilov's (1937-1972) significance as a leading playwright in the Soviet Union in the 1960s and 1970s, they have virtually ignored his prose fiction, which elucidated and determined the nature of his drama. A talented writer, many of his short stories anticipated the independence and experimentation of the 'youth prose' of the 1960s. By focusing primarily on the younger generation and their personal feelings and inner turmoils, Vampilov played a role in introducing a new, more intimate theme into Soviet literature. With his apolitical stance and stylistic creativity he challenged the dominance of Socialist Realism and confronted taboo topical issues. While firmly grounded in the reality of his day, Vampilov's short stories have a timeless and universal quality.