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The Four Loves (1960)

by C. S. Lewis

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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6,517351,130 (4.03)1 / 45
C.S. Lewis's famous work on the nature of love divides love into four categories: Affection, Friendship, Eros and Charity. The first three are loves which come naturally to the human race. Charity, however, the Gift-love of God, is divine in its source and expression, and without the sweetening grace of this supernatural love, the natural loves become distorted and even dangerous.… (more)
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» See also 45 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 33 (next | show all)
Another excellent thought-provoking piece by Lewis. He has a way of pointing out obvious things in life that I've somehow missed. We all talk about "loving" this or that person or thing, but I never stopped to consider what that really means. Reading this book has made my life richer. ( )
  MarcHutchison | Jul 11, 2021 |
I was introduced to this book during a C. S. Lewis class taught by Jerry Root in 2006. It quickly became one of my favourite Lewis works -- and I have gone through three or four copies simply because I keep giving them away to people that I know will greatly enjoy it as well. My copies tend to be full of underlined paragraphs and phrases, and I have clippings from this book in blogs, on post-its, snuck into essays, in letters, tucked into journals, jotted down in cards. And this too is one that I reread every year or two, and each time, I find something new and relevant in it. ( )
  resoundingjoy | Jan 1, 2021 |
Simple straightforward observations on the 4 types of love. Basic information that can enrich anyone's understanding of human relationships. Listened to the only recording of the author himself via audiobook. The four categories are Storge (near relations), Philia (friendship), Eros (obvious), and Agape (God). These Greek concepts are nothing new. But the parallels and clear examinations of human interaction Lewis writes about are timeless. ( )
  LSPopovich | Apr 8, 2020 |
C. S.Lewis contemplates the essence of love and how it works in our daily lives in one of his most famous works of nonfiction. Lewis examines four varieties of human love: affection, the most basic form; friendship, the rarest and perhaps most insightful; Eros, passionate love; charity, the greatest and least selfish. Throughout this compassionate and reasoned study, he encourages readers to open themselves to all forms of love—the key to understanding that brings us closer to God.
  StFrancisofAssisi | Apr 30, 2019 |
Before I die, I hope to read everything Lewis ever published. Every time I begin one of his works, I feel I'm shaking hands with a dear old professor who welcomes me back to a chair beside his fire and offers me tea (and then we laugh as I show him the Panera frozen caramel drink I brought with me, knowing he would offer tea). Then he speaks, and I listen. I know I could ask questions; he wouldn't mind. But he's going to get to his point eventually, and if I rush him, I'll miss something. So I hold my peace.

The homesick reality is that I'm only holding a book, not visiting the author. But what dear books Lewis gave the world. I'm highlighting on every other page. I'm smiling at his honesty and his humility. I'm learning, even when I don't fully agree (sometimes with his conclusion, sometimes with the validity of the analogy that got him there). He diverges sometimes from what I thought was the topic, but always there's a reason for the rabbit trail. He analyzes things I never bothered analyzing before. He challenges and teaches and writes with such accessible scholarship. And with every new read, I'm richer inside.

A few lesser known but, I thought, notable quotes from The Four Loves:

Mere is always a dangerous word.

Nature never taught me that there exists a God of glory and of infinite majesty. I had to learn that in other ways. But nature gave the word glory a meaning for me.

The truly wide taste in reading is that which enables a man to find something for his needs on the sixpenny tray outside any secondhand bookshop. The truly wide taste in humanity will similarly find something to appreciate in the cross-section of humanity whom one has to meet every day.

The rivalry between all natural loves and the love of God is something a Christian dare not forget.

The very condition of having Friends is that we should want something else besides Friends. [...] Those who have nothing can share nothing; those who are going nowhere can have no fellow travelers.

I have no duty to be anyone's Friend and no man in the world has a duty to be mine. No claims, no shadow of necessity. Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art, like the universe itself (for God did not need to create). It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival.

Christ, who said to the disciples "Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you," can truly say to every group of Christian friends "You have not chosen one another but I have chosen you for one another." The Friendship is not a reward for our discrimination and good taste in finding one another out. It is the instrument by which God reveals to each the beauties of all the others. ( )
  AmandaGStevens | Mar 2, 2019 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
C. S. Lewisprimary authorall editionscalculated
Nieminen, TaistoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
That our affection kill us not, nor dye. -- Donne
Dedication
to Chad Walsh
First words
"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.
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But very few modern people think Friendship a love of comparable value or even a love at all.
(p. 87)
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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C.S. Lewis's famous work on the nature of love divides love into four categories: Affection, Friendship, Eros and Charity. The first three are loves which come naturally to the human race. Charity, however, the Gift-love of God, is divine in its source and expression, and without the sweetening grace of this supernatural love, the natural loves become distorted and even dangerous.

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FROM THE BACK COVER:

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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