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The Four Loves by C. S. Lewis

The Four Loves (original 1960; edition 1971)

by C. S. Lewis

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4,530261,062 (4)1 / 33
Title:The Four Loves
Authors:C. S. Lewis
Info:Mariner Books (1971), Edition: 2nd Printing, Paperback, 156 pages
Collections:Your library

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The Four Loves by C. S. Lewis (1960)



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Showing 1-5 of 26 (next | show all)
The classic book on the four kinds of 'love' as defined in different Greek words. Affection, friendship, romantic love and 'charity' - the 'agape' of Christian love. Clearly written and well argued, although a bit dry in places, and distinctly old-fashioned now, with some of Lewis's culture and biases showing through.

An interesting book to re-read, all the same. Three and a half stars. ( )
  SueinCyprus | Jan 26, 2016 |
I'm reading about Friendship love right now. I like how he differentiates between Friendship and Companionship (one is matrix to the other) and even between Friendship and Eros.
  Desdelyn | Jan 13, 2016 |
Lewis is such an insufferably smug sexist homophobe and frequently a hollow rhetorician, yet there are moments of insight here and there if you can stomach it. ( )
  middlemarchhare | Nov 25, 2015 |
In The four loves, C. S. Lewis brings together his erudition in the field of culture, particularly the European Middle Ages and Renaissance and his religious views regarding love. The book was published in 1960 and has a much broader scope than Eric Fromm's Die Kunst des Liebens (Engl. The Art of Loving), which had appeared a few years earlier in 1956.

The four loves explores all forms of loving by humans, although it places materialism, "the love of sub-human things" clearly at a lower plain. In the first two chapters, the author also tries to distinguish between "loving" and "liking" something. Regarding the love of humans, Lewis aims to explain the love among humans and supra-human love, or divine love. The opening chapters are a bit confusing, as general concepts are explained with small excursions into future chapters. However, the last four chapters are devoted to the said four loves the title refers to, namely Affection, Friendship, Eros and Charity.

Although The four loves was published in 1960, and purports to be a philosophical essay on the various forms of love, the book could barely expected to offer guidance to readers on the eve of the sexual revolution. The main outlook is conservative, and throughout the book Lewis religious heart-thob is felt. Particularly in the final chapter, this overbearing slavishness to the Christian interpretation of love becomes overbearing. Clearly, the flower power movement would prefer Fromm's The Art of Loving which is more scientific, based in psychology rather than religion.

However, for readers who can appreciate the strong Christian sentiment in The four loves, Lewis work offers a broader and more interesting picture, as various forms of love are explored within the Christian cultural tradition of Europe. ( )
1 vote edwinbcn | Dec 7, 2014 |
Great Book! One of C.S Lewis Bests ( )
  Cathyalrey | Nov 2, 2014 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
C. S. Lewisprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Nieminen, TaistoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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That our affection kill us not, nor dye. -- Donne
to Chad Walsh
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"God is love," says St. John. When I first tried to write this book I thought that his maxim would provide me with a very plain highroad through the whole subject.
But very few modern people think Friendship a love of comparable value or even a love at all.
(p. 87)
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In this, one of his most popular books, C. S. Lewis sheds light on the eternally provocative subject of love.

With his characteristic insight, humor, and acute judgment, Lewis categorizes and describes all the natural loves. Affection binds parents and children, neighbors who have nothing in common, humans and their pets; it is love owed, rather than earned; it grows out of familiarity; it "is indeed the least discriminating of loves." Eros - not pure physicality but the more complex feeling of being "in love" - may inspire great sacrifice, but to potentially destructive ends. Friendship is "the least biological of our loves," the most spiritual in nature, but also the most inclined to snobbery. Each of these loves has its particular joys, and each its own proximity to hatred.

For Lewis, no natural love can prosper except in the presence of the Fourth Love, Charity, which is both the love of God and the selfless love of others. And though every kind of love carries its particular risks, Lewis exhorts us not to avoid them, for "hell is the only place outside of heaven where we can be safe from the dangers of love."

"The Four Loves [is] a modern mirror of souls ... of the virtues and failings of modern loving. Lewis combines a novelist's insight into motives with a profound religious understanding of our human nature." -Martin D'Arcy, The New York Times Book Review

C. S. Lewis was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, in 1898 and died in Oxford, England, in 1963. He held the Chair of Medieval and Renaissance Literature at Cambridge University and was the author of numerous books on Christianity, a science fiction trilogy, a novel, three volumes of poetry, and many works of literary criticism. He was also the author of the much-loved children's series The Chronicles of Narnia.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0156329301, Paperback)

The Four Loves summarizes four kinds of human love--affection, friendship, erotic love, and the love of God. Masterful without being magisterial, this book's wise, gentle, candid reflections on the virtues and dangers of love draw on sources from Jane Austen to St. Augustine. The chapter on charity (love of God) may be the best thing Lewis ever wrote about Christianity. Consider his reflection on Augustine's teaching that one must love only God, because only God is eternal, and all earthly love will someday pass away:
Who could conceivably begin to love God on such a prudential ground--because the security (so to speak) is better? Who could even include it among the grounds for loving? Would you choose a wife or a Friend--if it comes to that, would you choose a dog--in this spirit? One must be outside the world of love, of all loves, before one thus calculates.
His description of Christianity here is no less forceful and opinionated than in Mere Christianity or The Problem of Pain, but it is far less anxious about its reader's response--and therefore more persuasive than any of his apologetics. When he begins to describe the nature of faith, Lewis writes: "Take it as one man's reverie, almost one man's myth. If anything in it is useful to you, use it; if anything is not, never give it a second thought." --Michael Joseph Gross

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:59 -0400)

(see all 8 descriptions)

A candid, wise, and warmly personal book in which Lewis gently reflects on the four basic kinds of human love--affection, friendship, erotic love, charity. He explores the promise and the perils of love between parents and children; love men share with other men and women with other women; love shared between men and women; and the love of and for God that deepens all loves. [He] also considers the questions of sex, possessiveness, jealousy, pride, false sentimentality, good and bad manners in lovings, and the need for more laughter between lovers.--Back cover.… (more)

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