Defending the Literary: From Cervantes to Coetzee On Saturday 20 September the HRC together with the Department of English and Comparative Literary Studies held a conference, Defending the Literary: From Cervantes to Coetzee, to honour Professor Michael Bell on his retirement after 35 years of service to the University. The conference was opened by Professor Claude Rawson (Yale University) one of the founding members of the Warwick English Department, who analysed the syntax of some passages from Emma to illustrate the delicacy and the importance of the topic of money in relation to marriage in Jane Austen. Professor Ritchie Robertson (Oxford University) investigated some early examples of the German Bildungsroman and discussed their relationship to the broader tradition of the European novel. Dr Peter Poellner (Philosophy, Warwick) discussed questions of Ethics raised by Robert Musil's novel, The Man Without Qualities. These two contributions reflected Professor Bell's long-standing interests in German literature, the novel of education and the relationship between philosophy and literature. Dr Fiona Becket (Leeds University), representing Professor Bell's pupils, and reflecting Bell's continuing importance as a scholar of Lawrence, discussed the problems involved in finding an appropriate green context in which to place Lawrence's tough-minded view of nature. Professor Ed Larrissy (Queen's University, Belfast) explored the pitfalls of trying to historicize Blake, arguing that close attention to the poetry provides a better guide to understanding Blake's attitudes to questions of his time. Taking his cue from Dangerfield's The Strange Death of Liberal England and from Henry James's letters at the start of the 1914 war, Professor Michael Wood (Princeton University) explored some modernist writers' responses to events which were in one sense surprising and cataclysmic and on the other were entirely predictable consequences of social attitudes in which the writers had some complicity. The conference concluded with a typically wide-ranging paper from Michael Bell, urging readers to understand magic realism as an instance of the wider issue of the place of imagination in understanding. At the end of the conference Professor Bernard Bergonzi made a presentation to Professor Bell from his friends and colleagues. The even was attended by about 60 people, including many present and former colleagues and students. We were very grateful to the CAPITAL Centre for hosting the conference.