Before Mr. Gathorne-Hardy’s biography, Gerald Brenan was known to Americans mainly for his peripheral association with the Bloomsbury crowd and to those interested in Spain for his scholarly history, The Spanish Labyrinth (1943), for the competent if flawed The Literature of the Spanish People (1951), and for the delightful South from Granada (1957). To those of us who saw the Spanish Civil War as the central crisis in recent history, Brenan, like George Orwell, appeared heroic for remaining in Malaga, as the English cleared off, to write for the press from the Loyalists’ point of view in the late summer of 1936. Mr. Gathorne-Hardy, however, corrects any impulse one might have had to hero worship, for the Brenan who emerges—stubborn, loquacious, hypochondriacal yet tough, privileged and vastly self-centered—is a figure whose life was often a soap opera which he himself wrote, produced, and acted in.