- Series: Harvest Book
- Paperback: 156 pages
- Publisher: Mariner 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 (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars See all reviews (376 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #11,118 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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Top Customer Reviews
And so, once more, C.S. Lewis has changed my thought on a broad portion of life. He's done it to me before--the Narnian Books, Mere Christianity, An Experiment In Criticism--have all been books that have greatly shaped me. Now I can add the Four Loves to the list.
One does not often sit down and ponder the different kinds of love. One may have generalized "loved ones" such as family and friends, we may "love" certain activities or places, we may even say we are "in love" ... but do we stop to consider our words?
Lewis spends time surveying the lay of love's different lands. Building on blocks of seemingly deepening emotion, he moves from looking at affection to friendship to erotic love (Eros) to the love of God (Agape). Each is looked at in detail, their meaning and impact on life is explored.
The most helpful thing about this book is that Lewis allows the reader to think about how they deal with their own loves in life. Does one stress a certain kind of love in an unhealthy way? Do we ignore the possibilities of one love because another kind holds too much sway in our lives?
I believe Lewis makes the case that God's love should be primary in the lives of humans. The other loves, though they can be wonderful in their place, can be used unnaturally and ineffectively to try and fill in for Agape if it is not felt. A healthy life will involve all four loves. Yet they must be rooted and grounded in Agape.
My own favorite passage in this book is in the friendship section. Dispelling the myth that an intense friendship between two people is always the best, Lewis notes that after his friend Charles (Williams) died, his friendship with J.R.R. Tolkien was something less than it was when Charles was still around--he could no longer appreciate Tolkien through the eyes of Williams. The passage is personal, poignant, and true to my own experience.
The Four Loves is a remarkable book. I give it my full recommendation.
He desribed storge as the kind of love we have for people whome we spend a lot of time with, but whom with we do not necessarily have a lot in common with. For example, if you have a sibling whom you do not share many interests with but whom you love nonetheless, it is probably storge. These are people whom you probably would not be friends with if you were not related to or neighbors to these people. Lewis notes that these are people we often do not really realize how much we loved until they are gone (or until we realize that they are those kind of people to us).
He had an amazing chapter on phileo and the gift of friendship as well. I won't go into much detail so that you can enjoy it more when you actually get around to reading it. Let me just say that it made me appreciate my friends much more, and changed my views on what a friend is. He had the amazing insight that each friend brings out a different part of you. He noted that his friendship with J. R. Tolkien was not quite the same after Charles Williams died, because Williams brought out parts of Tokien that Lewis did not. Very insightful.
Lewis' discussion of eros was very insightful as well. He discussed the nature of romantic love, and what romantic love looks like in a marriage. His main point seemed to be that eros loves the other person, and does not try to make the other person become more like himself.
Finally, Lewis discussed agape, the kind of love that gives with no expectancy to receive in return. The whole point of this book, through there may have been amazing sidenotes on the way, is that this is the only perfect love. All the other kinds of love can be twisted until they are no longer recognizable. Storge can degenerate into condescendence, phileo can consume us and destory our lives, and eros can degenerate into lust or domineering, but agape is uncorruptable.
I highly recommend this book. I can nearly guarantee that it will change the way that you think about love.
Overall grade: A+