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The Four Loves

4.16  ·  Rating details ·  32,678 Ratings  ·  1,143 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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Robert Irish Charity is not an act for Lewis, as in "acts of charity" rather it is a type of love, the highest form, built upon the other three types of "natural"…moreCharity is not an act for Lewis, as in "acts of charity" rather it is a type of love, the highest form, built upon the other three types of "natural" love. Charity is a kind of self-giving love (he distinguishes "gift-love" from "need-love") but one which comes from the purest of places. Ultimately, charity is God's love to humanity. As we become like Christ through Christian maturity, we also begin to express charity to others. Our love to God is always a mix of such gift-love, but also of need-love of the being who acknowledges its utter dependence on its creator. (less)

Community Reviews

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Feb 08, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: spiritual
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.
Aug 29, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 15, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
David Sarkies
Mar 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  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
Nov 01, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  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
Oct 27, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“Amar del todo es ser vulnerable. Ama cualquier cosa y tu corazón seguramente será estrujado y posiblemente roto. Si quieres asegurarte de mantenerlo intacto, no debes darle tu corazón a nadie, ni siquiera a un animal. Cúbrelo cuidadosamente con pasatiempos y pequeños lujos; evita cualquier enredo; guárdalo bajo llave en el ataúd o el féretro de tu egoísmo. Pues en ese féretro -seguro, oscuro, sin movimiento y sin aire- cambiará. No lo harán pedazos; se volverá irrompible, impenetrable, irredimi
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
Ahmad Sharabiani
The Four Loves, C.S. Lewis
The Four Loves is a book by C. S. Lewis which explores the nature of love from a Christian and philosophical perspective through thought experiments. The book was based on a set of radio talks from 1958. Taking his start from St. John's words "God is Love", Lewis initially thought to contrast "Need-love" (such as the love of a child for its mother) and "Gift-love" (epitomized by God's love for humanity), to the disparagement of the former. However he swiftly happened on

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
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
Apr 01, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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.
BAM The Bibliomaniac
I'm listening to this book so I'm not sure how everything is spelled. This first type of love reminds me of the basic level of care at the bottom of the psychological pyramids that is so often neglected and often leads to such dysfunctional young adults and crime. If an infant doesn't feel secure and isn't nurtured, then he will not grow up feeling compassion for humanity.
As for philia I totally agree with his philosophy. I have "friends" and I have friends. I have a group of five sorority siste
Whenever I read any book by Lewis I always ask myself why I read anything else until I've read everything he has ever written. He puts everything in such a way that is so complex yet so simple. Only a true genius can write something that you feel exactly the same way yourself, but could never have the eloquence to state it like Lewis can.

Highly recommend The Four Loves to anyone who has ever loved anything. I live with a beautiful example of these loves in my own home in my husband, and I kept l
Jul 20, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 26, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Douglas Wilson
Outstanding. Also read in September of 1983. And then in 2016 I listened to the audio recording of Lewis himself reading an earlier form of the book.
Sep 04, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  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 …
Julie Davis
Nov 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 30, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked the wisdom and insight offered in this book. I thought that Lewis did a great job dedicating so much thought into each type of love and showing how God can be present or misused in each form of love. I did find it to be a bit hard to follow and abstract, but overall a good read.
Rebekah Choat
Sep 20, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned, inklings
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
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
Rober Raafat
Feb 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
كتاب فلسفي رائع، يغلب علي معظمه اسلوب فلسفي وفكر عالي. وفي بعض المرات القليلة يتكلم الكاتب من منظور ديني ايضا لا يخلو من الفلسفة.

يتمتع الكاتب باسلوب صعب وفكر عالي ويستخدم تشبيهات وان كانت دقيقة فهي لم تكن ايسر في الفهم من فهم الفكرة الاساسية نفسها.
اخذ الكاتب -في بعض الاجزاء الغير قليلة- ينقض ويفنط افكار كان يري - من منظوره- انها شائعة، وتستحق النقد والاطالة في بعض الاحيان. في حين ان الكثير منها لم اكن قد سمعت عنه من قبل ان يذكره الكاتب. فكانت تبدو لي تلك الصفحات انها غير مفيدة ولا تلمس واقعي الح
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
Elsa K
Feb 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I find this book beautiful and so deep. Having read it before, I was amazed at how difficult I found it to get through and really grasp. The last time I read it, I feel I was more naive in my approach, took it more on face value and didn't think as much about the parts I didn't fully comprehend. I think I could read this book ten times in a row and get more from it every time. For a small book it packs quite a punch. I love Lewis' ability to write simply, but with such depth in every line. One a ...more
Dec 01, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
الترجمه سيئه!!! جدا! .. النسخه ال English ابسط بكتير للي حابب يفهم هو بيقول ايه ..
الكتاب نجمه علي الحب الاخوي و نجمتين الحب الالهي و لم اقرأ الحب الغرامي.
فصل الحب الاخوي ملئ بالسطحيه و اوقات الرجعيه و رؤيه ضيقه و تعميم خاطئ جدا دفعني مقراش الحب الغرامي و خصوصا انه اتكلم 3/4 عن الشهوه! و اللي معرفش هو معتبرها من الحب ليه اصلا! لكن في مجمل الفصل وانه اعطي الصداقه قدرها الحقيقي كان كويس!
الحب الالهي .. معنديش كلام يوصفه ..هوه الكلام اللي فيه كفايه .. ازاي تتحد المحبات دي مع المحبه نفسه. رائع!!!! جدا
Stephanie Ricker
Lewis is brilliant, as always, and I sort of wish I hadn't saved him for my last flight home when I was already so tired, because his thoughts require a fair bit of digestion. Lewis puts things in ways I hadn't thought to consider them, and even if I don't necessarily agree with him, he's certainly mind-stretching. And eventually I do find myself agreeing on most things. It's only some of his generalizations about women that irk, and I think maybe he just didn't meet enough interesting and intel ...more
Judith Acosta
Feb 04, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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)
Oct 30, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
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.
Oct 28, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
"Love becomes a demon when it becomes a god."

Usual Lewis brilliance. Loved it.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
  • The Everlasting Man
  • On the Incarnation
  • A Severe Mercy: A Story of Faith, Tragedy and Triumph
  • The Imitation of Christ
  • The Cost of Discipleship
  • The God Who Is There
  • The Question of God: C.S. Lewis and Sigmund Freud Debate God, Love, Sex, and the Meaning of Life
  • Generous Justice: How God's Grace Makes Us Just
  • Real Sex: The Naked Truth about Chastity
  • After You Believe: Why Christian Character Matters
  • God Is Love: Deus Caritas Est
  • Basic Christianity
  • The Jesus I Never Knew
  • Think: The Life of the Mind and the Love of God
  • Three Philosophies of Life: Ecclesiastes—Life As Vanity, Job—Life As Suffering, Song of Songs—Life As Love
  • City of God
  • Love Your God with All Your Mind: The Role of Reason in the Life of the Soul
  • Jack: A Life of C.S. Lewis
Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name.

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
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“Friendship ... is born at the moment when one man says to another "What! You too? I thought that no one but myself . . .” 80454 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.” 17813 likes
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