Since I’m in the middle of reading Bengt Jangfeldt’s Mayakovsky bio (and, of course, Mayakovsky’s poetry to go with it), it seemed like a good time to haul out my copy of Assya Humesky’s 1964 Majakovskij and His Neologisms, and I thought this passage from the introduction was interesting enough to share:
In the history of Russian literature certain periods are marked by intensive word-coining activity. One such literary epoch when neologisms were fashionable was the time of the so-called “Second South Slavic Influence” (Fourteenth — Fifteenth centuries). The literary men of the Slavic East, imitating their southern brethren, created neologisms for the sake of stylistic ornamentation. Word compounds (or composita) became an especially popular type of neologism under the influence of the Trnov school. Cf. Epifanij Premudrejšij: Skytat’sja po goram, goroplennym i volkoxiščnym byti;*[Footnote: Neologisms within quotations are given in roman letters, single neologisms are italicized.] nevestokrasitelju moj i pesnokrasitelju.
The ornamental style (“pletenie sloves”) appeared again in the Seventeenth century, strengthened by a new influence, that of the Baroque. Literature of this period was also rich in composita, cf. Simeon Polockij: volkoubijstvennyj, vodorodnye oblaka (i.e. “water-producing”), mjagkopostel’niki, mnogokonniki.
Two centuries later it was the Romantics of the Golden Age of Russian poetry who picked up this fascinating tradition. Thus we find in Boratynskij lelejatel’, naxod, burnopogodnyj, bratstvovat’; in Jazykov — bezdiplomnyj (cf. the recent sovietizm svobodnodiplomnik), prixvostnica (fem. of prixvosten′), delano-zanjatoj, in Tjutčev — vsedrobjaščeju strueju, dymno-legko, mglisto-lilejno, po tëmno-bryzžuščim kovram. Neologisms were scattered throughout the poems of Benediktov, Vjazemskij, and others.
Following this Golden Age, a long period of sometimes unintentional, sometimes deliberate neglect of poetic form had set in (the few “formalists” of that period were an exception rather than a rule). Only at the end of the Nineteenth century is there a renewal of interest in matters connected with literary style and form. Such writers as Remizov and the Symbolists Bal’mont, Andrej Belyj, and others interspersed their works with neologisms. Especially prominent among words coined by the Symbolists were abstract nouns (feminine gender with the suffix –ost’), plural forms of words which ordinarily are used only in the singular, and multi-rooted composite adjectives. Here, for example, are a few of Bal’mont’s neologisms: zmejnost’, voskresnost’, ručjistost’, rascvety, sgoran’ja, vozdušno-laskovyj, vozvyšenno-košmarnyj, mnogo-lavinnyj. […]
What compels authors to create new words? Sometimes it is the desire to designate a new cultural concept — such are many of Karamzin’s neologisms and those of the “philosophical poets” of the Nineteenth century. Or it may be part of a puristic fight against foreign borrowings — many of the neologisms created by Eighteenth century writers were of this nature (cf. Tred’jakovskij’s debr’ smesi for “chaos,” členovoe sostavlenie for “organization,” vsenarodnyj for “epidemic,” razvrat for “party”), as were also the neologisms created by the “archaists” at the beginning of the Nineteenth century. Finally, the cause may be of a psychological or aesthetic nature.
Incidentally, the book appeared under the imprint of Rausen Publishers, an occasional variant of Rausen Bros., a printing house run by two brothers that published a lot of Russian books between around 1949 (the earliest I’ve found) and the mid-1960s; it made a brief appearance in wider literary history when it prepared the reproductions of Doctor Zhivago for the CIA (see The Zhivago Affair: The Kremlin, the CIA, and the Battle Over a Forbidden Book, p. 134). You can get a bunch of their publications by putting “Rausen Bros.” into the Google Books search box; they also published my nice little 1966 edition of Abram Tertz’s Mysli vrasplokh.