Samizdat was the underground literature of the Soviet Union. Since many authors were banned, and could not publish their works, people used typescripts to circulate their work. Penalties for being caught with copies of banned works was severe. Owning a printing press required permission, and all forms of printing required a licence. However, typewriters were common and, with the aid of carbon paper, many copies of the best works were produced and circulated.
Once samizdats were in circulation, they sometimes got into the West. Several important works were published from samizdat and translated, before they were published in the Soviet Union.