- Series: Harvest Book
- Paperback: 156 pages
- Publisher: Harvest Books; 1 edition (September 29, 1971)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0156329301
- ISBN-13: 978-0156329309
- Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.4 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 395 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #19,476 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Four Loves 1st Edition
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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
"A rare and memorable book." —Saturday Review"The Four Loves deserves to become a minor classic as a modern mirror of our souls, a mirror of the virtues and failings of human loving." —New York Times Book Review"[Lewis] has never written better. Nearly every page scintillates with observations which are illuminating, provocative and original." —Church Times"What is interesting about these chapters is the extent to which a non-believer can follow the argument and receive enlightenment … Lewis has a keen eye, a large measure of human sympathy, wit, and a command of simple words … By writing so well and so perceptively about ‘natural’ human conduct, Lewis makes the strongest case for examining his conclusions with respect. He is writing, presumably, for the unconverted as well as for Christians, and whatever the former may believe or disbelieve about God they are persuaded that he could only exist as a culmination in absolute terms of their deepest moral convictions."—Times Literary Supplement
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The entire book is not only profound in basis and thought, but Lewis brings a sense of humor and levity to what could be (and sometimes is in the book) a very weighty subject. Writing from a Christian perspective, Lewis ends up tying all love back to divinity through comparison and contrasting.
A great book. Well worth the few hours it will take to get through for the first time. It may end up a treasured part of your collection.
My favorite section is the one he wrote on Friendship. I think he is honest about limitations we place on who becomes our friends. Many believe any two people can become good friends, when in reality, this is just not so. Friends are people who share some vision or passion in life. That vision or passion is the cement of the common bond. Lewis had deep friendships with interesting people, such as Tolkien. He even elaborates on his own experiences with such companions.
Charity is the true form of love. Charity is the deepest form of giving our feeling, freedom, and even our very selves, to each other and finally, to God, whom Lewis calls "Love Himself." There is wisdom in his admonition that love is not easy or cheap. Work, loss, and sacrifice often accompany the application of true love, which is charity.
Unlike other works, such as "Miracles" or "Mere Christianity" where logic sets the primary pace, "The Four Loves" is a book where Lewis brings much of his experience to light. This is not, however, to say that Lewis does not apply logic to experience. Rather, Lewis uses logic to makes sense of experiences in his past to try and uncover truths about love.
In writing about love, Lewis articulates some significant moral, social, and psychological truths. Most importantly, he shows that love itself is not God. Love exalted to divinity becomes a "demon," as he quotes one of his contemporaries. Love is only a part of the greatness of our complex lives, not the full of it. "The Four Loves" is another insightful masterpiece by C.S. Lewis.
My favorite quotes:
"There is indeed a particular charm, both in friendship and in Eros, about those moments when Appreciative love lies, as it were, curled up asleep, and the mere ease and ordinariness of the relationship (free as solitude, yet neither is alone) wraps us round. No need to talk. No need to make love. No needs at all except to stir the fire." - from Affection.
"Eros will have naked bodies; Friendship naked personalities." - from Friendship.
"This headship, then, is most fully embodied not in the husband we should all wish to be but in him whose marriage is most like a crucifixion; whose wife receives most and gives least, is most unworthy of him, is - in her own mere nature - least lovable. For the Church has no beauty but what the Bride-groom gives her; he does not find, but makes her, lovely." - from Eros.
"It is probably impossible to love any human being simply 'too much.' We may love him too much in proportion to our love for God; but it is the smallness of our love for God, not the greatness of our love for the man, that constitutes the inordinacy. - from Charity.
Surprisingly, the Kindle format has helped me to overcome an immense stumbling block. That block being made up of Lewis's vast vocabulary and frequent references to books, poems and characters far beyond the scope of my reading experience. With Kindle, I can refer easily to definitions, and even Wikipedia references, without completely disrupting the natural flow of the text. It's otherwise difficult to sit in a waiting room with a dictionary and encyclopedia reading a book. All I need now is my iPad or iPhone to fully enjoy and understand almost anywhere.