Although accounts of the realist novel have not always adequately examined the experience of movement through space, this embodied epistemology is critical to the genre's development. Drawing on the physiology of perception as investigated by Erasmus Darwin and others, Scott makes the realist novel historical through the representation of motion as vertiginous sensation and as a problematic register of experience. The very uncertainty of the sensation of motion evokes history as a horizon rather than as a causal sequence. The term vection came to be used later in the nineteenth century to refer to sensory uncertainty about whether movement in space is one's own or a sensation produced by external objects. For Scott, the related phenomena of vertigo and vection become perceptual metonyms of historical change. In the plot of vection, as opposed to the plot of action, movement cannot always be identified as forward or backward, up or down, as self-motion or as the ambient motion of the world. His novels engage the question of large-scale epochal historical transitions through the micro-level of the sensory experience of movement.

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