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The Four Loves

4.14 of 5 stars 4.14  ·  rating details  ·  26,452 ratings  ·  778 reviews
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. Co ...more
Paperback, 192 pages
Published 1960 by Harcourt Brace Jovanovich
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Overall a fascinating read, though a bit more "high-brow" than my usual fare. Having a background in the classics, as in OLD classics, would help to make more of it understandable. And sometimes I got a little lost in his logic. However, the points of view on the different types of love were very useful to me, in reflecting on my own life and relationships. If I were to sum up the effect on me in one word, it would be "clarifying."

I am an incurable romantic; nevertheless through the years I hav
Read this in college when most of it went over my head...then life happens. After a life full of joy and tragedy and senseless loss at times...this work sits in my nightstand drawer so I can be renewed, reawakened and reminded of higher purposes when the world is too much with me.
With clarity C.S. Lewis outlines the four loves as he understands them. As I read I recognized the roles these loves play, and have played, in my life and in the lives of those I know. People and possible motives for their actions became apparent to me. It is a book that captures reflections to share with the reader and allow them to create more of the same. Below is an excerpt that I wished to share.

"There is no safe investment. To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart
Nov 07, 2014 Werner rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Christians interested in serious reflection
Though Lewis is a favorite writer of mine, this is the first time that I've read this particular short volume, presenting his theological, moral, psychological and philosophical reflections on the human experience of the four kinds of "love" referred to (by different Greek words) in the New Testament. One reviewer spoke of this as an "apologetic," and indeed Lewis wrote many apologetic works, designed to make a rational case for Christianity for unbelieving readers. However, this isn't one of th ...more

The other works of C.S. Lewis that I have been reading recently, tackle more of the concept of Christianity. Lewis, arguing in those works concepts that I agree with. Namely that Christians aren't any more moral than any other people, nor are they any more spiritual (after all there can be spiritual good and spiritual evil), but that Christianity is more about returning the natural to the supernatural. However, here in this work of non-fiction, he chooses to discuss the topic of love.

Love is one
David Sarkies
May 06, 2015 David Sarkies rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anybody
Recommended to David by: My Dad, and Plato
Shelves: philosophy
Lewis explores love
24 March 2013

This is one of those books that every time I read it (this is the third time I think) I learn something new, so I guess I am going to have to put this book up in the realms of literature. The interesting thing about this book is that when Lewis wrote it he had not been in a relationship (he remained single until he met Joy Davidman, which is actually the subject of a book, a movie, and even a play) so he is not actually writing from experience. However, we should
I talk about how much I dislike Lewis and yet read two of his books in the space of a few days. Hypocritical much? If you enjoy Lewis' continual didacticism, this is the book for you. I found it hard to get through (though I persevered) due to sexist anachronisms (women, as homemakers, cannot understand a man's world or thoughts) and statements with which I vehemently disagree presented as facts (don't get me started). Admittedly, I don't read philosophy or dogma well, and this is both. However, ...more
Jason Koivu
The fantasy novels of CS Lewis can barely touch the fanciful nature of love, but in The Four Loves, his work on the subject feels so in tune with the complexity of its forms that it seems as if it MUST be written by some learned/aged Don Juan reflecting back on the lusts and loves of his past, so much so that you forget all about Lewis, the pasty white English professor and his faerie books. The Four Loves made a strong impression on me in my youth. Perhaps I didn't, and maybe still don't, take ...more
This book was something I looked forward to reading and then I was totally bored and disgusted with it. What frustrated me the most is how he would take an opinion or outright incorrect statement such as Pagans worship trees (way way way out of context and incorrect) and then use that false statement to support his arguments. That is basic logic 101 class and made most of his arguments invalid. I wanted to like what he was saying but couldnt because he was just down right incorrect in so much.
Julie Davis
This is not the exact same material as his book that bears the same title. Rather it is from a series of radio broadcasts prior to the publication of the book.

That said, I am enjoying hearing Lewis's own voice. I keep thinking of J.R.R. Tolkien's supposed basing of the Ents and their way of talking on his friend C.S. Lewis ... and it kind of works.

Also the material is great and is a wonderful precis (probably) of the book which I know contains more material. And which I will be reading in the f
'the four loves' [1960] sau 'cele patru iubiri', pentru norocosii care au prins cartea de la humanitas, aparuta in 1997, impreuna cu 'problema durerii' si 'despre minuni'.

cartea pleaca de la cei patru termeni care definesc dragostea, intilniti in noul testament: storge [afectiunea], fileo [prietenia], eros [atractia/dragostea sexuala] si agape [caritatea sau mila, in trad. romaneasca]. lewis merge pe ideea ca primele trei iubiri, cele 'naturale' sint complet diferite, rupte de agape, dragostea p
Nov 07, 2014 Ron rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Christians, seekers
Re-reading Four Loves several years after my first reading I find a depth that I missed before. This last major work touching on Christianity by Lewis is less polemic and more analytic.

Going beyond the division of loves into gift-loves and need-loves, Lewis delves into how any affection can raise us bring us closer to divine source of love or move us farther away.

Not light reading, but worth it. More profound and challenging with each reading.

New review:

“Perhaps … all experience merely defines …
At his best Lewis can be very good (Screwtape Letters, Mere Christianity), but at other times he can be a bit frustrating. He has an excellent mind overstuffed with knowledge of many fine things, he’s often insightful, and he’s able to write engagingly and accessibly while fleshing out a carefully conceived and detailed plan. But when he’s not at his best there can be too much wordplay and other cleverness combined with an over-certain pedagogy, or at least that’s how it comes off for me. It’s p ...more
I hadn't read any CS Lewis in years, and I remember not being especially impressed the first time I read this book; it didn't seem to have a cohesive thesis. However, I ran across a used copy at a flea market in NYC (irresistible) and couldn't put it down on the airplane home. I can see why I thought Lewis was tangential, and I assume I overlooked the genius because at the time I was too naive of love (& it's pitfalls) to understand his meditations. No doubt the book will be even more meanin ...more
Judith Acosta
I read this book about once a year to remind myself of the basics: to Whom I am accountable, what true love entails and endows, and why I wake up every day.

My favorite quote: " the act of love we are not merely ourselves. We are also representatives. It is here no impoverishment but an enrichment to be aware that forces older and less personal than we work through us..."

♥ Ibrahim ♥
He divides love into four kinds and follows the ancient Greek pattern. Such definitions of love are confusing because these supposed four categories overlap. I might love a woman with pure love and love progresses and lo and behold it becomes erotic. The two indeed overlap. Eros itself might or might not involve sexual attraction and desire.
Mike (the Paladin)
I have read this book multiple times and always find things I didn't get before. Thick with information and deep with insight into the words translated "love" in the New Testemant" and their import to us.
"Love becomes a demon when it becomes a god."

Usual Lewis brilliance. Loved it.
The Four Loves is based on the four Greek words for love: agápe, éros, philía, and storgē. Lewis defines each of these types of love and how they affect our lives. It was a short, lovely read. It was at times a little highbrow, but remember that it was written in the 40's by a Cambridge professor. Still Lewis has a wonderful way with words, and some of the reflections and quotes were quiet resonant. Such as this one:

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung
What can I say about C.S. Lewis that others haven't said before me on here? The guy is just ... so brilliant. SO SO brilliant. I think, more than any other person whose put pen to page, Lewis captures what it means to be a Christian better than any other author I've ever read. Maybe it's the fact he, himself, was an atheist for so many years, but his approach in describing my faith is so powerful, I wish everyone would give him the brain space (and you'll need a little... dimestore novel readin' ...more
This is an interesting book. C. L. Lewis describes his four categories of love: affection, friendship, Eros (romantic love) and charity (love of God and selfless love of others). I like his analysis of each kind of love and how affection, friendship and Eros can all have destructive sides to them. I also appreciate that he points out that the first three kinds of love need charity (need God) in order to thrive. However, while I think separating the loves for the purpose of description is useful, ...more
Rebecca Hicks
I used to think this book was really amazing. Now, although I can still enjoy it, after my own experiences of deep friendship and affection, I find myself disagreeing with some of the details of Lewis's ideas.

For example, Lewis seems to think that true friendship is almost impossible between a man and a woman. Try telling that to my male best friend! (although, to give him credit, maybe such a friendship was less likely in his time than in ours) Also, he seems doubtful as to whether women can ev
Eric Chappell
Haven't read since undergraduate. Lewis gets better with age.
I loved this book. The first read through, was confusing because he would often refer to the other loves without having explained it. But the second time through, I understood how Lewis was piecing together his categories of love.
The greatest point I think this book makes is that all other loves are unsustainable unless they are consumed and supported by Charity. Without Charity, a divine love, all other loves with "go bad" on us, because we are human. But our ability to love God and His love f
Daniel Ionson
I'm no longer a Christian, but I still respect many of the insights of this book.
Carlos Carrasco
A wonderful, little book that is a powerful study of the many-splendoured nature of love.

In short, Lewis distinguishes between 3 natural loves, affection, friendship & erotic love and one supernatural love, Charity. Proceeding from the principle that 'The highest does not stand without the lowest' he goes through the 4, exploring the pleasures, problems and occasional perversions of the 3 natural loves and the great potential for perfection presented to us through the fourth, supernatural l
Dan Glover
This was truly excellent. Although nearly all of Lewis's works could be described as such, this one doesn't get the recognition it deserves. I think this work will become a regular annual re-read for me, like The Screwtape Letters. I originally listened to the first version of this work in Lewis's own voice, as re-recordings of his original radio talks. I enjoyed hearing his voice, but this book is superior to the talks, having been reworked and greatly improved by fleshing the talks out further ...more
Timothy Stone
The English language really is an inferior language for describing ideas or concepts. It is the weird amalgamation of so much else, kind of like the cultures that both spawned it, and that it in turn spawned. This thought has occurred to me almost every time that I have contemplated the greater variety of words to describe so many sensations and ideas in the Greek, Hebrew, or Aramaic languages.

Most recently, this notion came to me when reading the book, The Four Loves, by C. S. Lewis. In the sl
This was a stimulating but somewhat dry analysis of the different ways we use the word, "love." Lewis discusses four kinds of love: affection, friendship, eros, and charity. Affection refers to the love of parents for children and vice versa. It is expected, and because it is expected it is subject to abuse and manipulation. Friendship love is the love between individuals who share a common interest. The shadow side of friendship love is its possible result in indifference to outside opinion and ...more
Rebekah Choat
Lewis begins by drawing a distinction between "gift-love" and "need-love," defining the first as the type of love which motivates a man to work and plan for his family's future well-being although he will not live to see its fulfillment, and the second as that which sends a frightened child running to his mother. There follows a scholarly yet warmly conversational discussion of the four loves known to man: affection, friendship, eros, and charity. In conclusion, the author says, "We must try to ...more
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  • The Everlasting Man
  • The Question of God: C.S. Lewis and Sigmund Freud Debate God, Love, Sex, and the Meaning of Life
  • The Mind of the Maker
  • Recovering Biblical Manhood & Womanhood
  • Angels in the Architecture: A Protestant Vision for Middle Earth
  • On the Incarnation
  • The God Who Is There
  • The Narnian: The Life and Imagination of C. S. Lewis
  • The Bondage of the Will
  • The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert: An English Professor's Journey Into Christian Faith
  • Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth
  • Love Your God with All Your Mind: The Role of Reason in the Life of the Soul
  • Basic Christianity
  • He Is There and He Is Not Silent
  • A Severe Mercy
  • Through the Shadowlands: The Love Story of C. S. Lewis and Joy Davidman
  • The Return of the Prodigal Son: A Story of Homecoming
  • Notes from the Tilt-A-Whirl: Wide-Eyed Wonder in God's Spoken World
CLIVE STAPLES LEWIS (1898–1963) was one of the intellectual giants of the twentieth century and arguably one of the most influential writers of his day. He was a Fellow and Tutor in English Literature at Oxford University until 1954. He was unanimously elected to the Chair of Medieval and Renaissance Literature at Cambridge University, a position he held until his retirement. He wrote more than th ...more
More about C.S. Lewis...
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (Chronicles of Narnia, #1) The Chronicles of Narnia (Chronicles of Narnia, #1-7) The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (Chronicles of Narnia, #3) The Magician's Nephew (Chronicles of Narnia, #6) Prince Caspian (Chronicles of Narnia, #2)

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“Friendship is born at that moment when one man says to another: "What! You too? I thought that no one but myself . . ."” 69647 likes
“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.” 15262 likes
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