ALEXANDER NIKOLAYEVICH Ostróvsky (1823-86) is the great Russian dramatist of the central decades of the nineteenth century, of the years when the realistic school was all-powerful in Russian literature, of the period when Turgénev, Dostoyevsky, and Tolstoy created a literature of prose fiction that has had no superior in the world’s history. His work in the drama takes its place beside theirs in the novel. Obviously inferior as it is in certain ways, it yet sheds light on an important side of Russian life that they left practically untouched. Turgénev and Tolstoy were gentlemen by birth, and wrote of the fortunes of the Russian nobility or of the peasants whose villages bordered on the nobles’ estates. Dostoyevsky, though not of this landed-proprietor school, still dealt with the nobility, albeit with its waifs and strays. None of these masters more than touched the Russian merchants, that homespun moneyed class, crude and coarse, grasping and mean, without the idealism of their educated neighbors in the cities or the homely charm of the peasants from whom they themselves sprang, yet gifted with a rough force and determination not often found among the cultivated aristocracy. This was the field that Ostróvsky made peculiarly his own.