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The Four Loves

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  52,642 ratings  ·  2,332 reviews
A repackaged edition of the revered author's classic work that examines the four types of human love: affection, friendship, erotic love, and the love of God—part of the C. S. Lewis Signature Classics series.

C.S. Lewis—the great British writer, scholar, lay theologian, broadcaster, Christian apologist, and bestselling author of Mere Christianity, The Screwtape Letters, The
Paperback, 192 pages
Published February 14th 2017 by HarperOne (first published 1960)
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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)

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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
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
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
Jonathan Terrington

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
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
Nov 01, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
L.S. Popovich
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. ...more
Manuel Alfonseca
Jan 06, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
ENGLISH: One of the best books about love I've ever read. This is the fifth time I've read it, just after "The Art of Loving" by Erich Fromm. My conclusion is that Lewis knows what he is speaking about far more than Fromm. Of the four loves Lewis talks about, Fromm only knows two: storge and eros (affection and erotic love). He completely ignores friendship (philia) and the love of God (charitas), which is not strange, because Fromm declares himself non-theist.

The part that Lewis devotes to char
Sunshine Rodgers
So I always love reading anything by C.S. Lewis. He is my go-to author! This book is basically Lewis just talking about his insights and his perspectives on love. It's almost like I am out with him drinking coffee at the cafe and he's just sharing his thoughts on love and friendship. There was a lot of contradictions i.e. sex without love can be a good thing...friendship can be a bad thing. And I was like, "Okay...explain." And Lewis *does* explain and offers terrific ideals and values on love, ...more
Jul 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: faith, religion
4 1/2 stars. I bumped it up 1/2 star for the last chapter ..... awesome!
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
Mar 20, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I’ve decided to re-read some of the old C.S. Lewis titles that inhabited my parents’ bookcases. Most of them I read first when I was a teenager and glad to page through most anything near at hand. At some point in my early twenties I decided that Lewis was too something-or-other for me. I could never quite figure out what it was about him that irked. Was he too reasonable and intellectual? Not reasonable or intellectual enough? I don’t know.

Reading him again in my mid-forties is a different expe
BAM the enigma
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
I already thought Lewis's wisdom and analytical mind was amazing before I read The Four Loves. Now that I have read it, I'm convinced saying merely that would be a gross understatement. He weaves analogy like a magician and makes logic an art form, and through it all has helped me begin to understand the concept of love in all its forms and nuances. Most importantly, he has awakened in me anew a desire to aspire to the Love that is God Himself. Thank you, God, for the gift Lewis is to the world. ...more
Mary-Therese P.
May 31, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: classics, own-it, religion
4.5 stars.
A great book by one of the greatest authors of the 20th century. Lewis is very easy to read and always enjoyable. his sense of humor is fantastic, and I think it really comes out in this book. I have no complaints, for some reason this book did not quite demand my full attention like other books by Lewis. Very easy format and it will make you think.
Justin Wiggins
Nov 03, 2022 rated it it was amazing
It was an absolute joy to re-read this book the Irish Ulsterman. There are so many passages to underline, reflect on, and put into practice. It is a very poignant book about how affection, friendship, romantic love, and agape love are all sacramental gifts given to humanity and perfected by Christ.
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 meaningful ...more
Jack Woods
May 01, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This is probably my favorite book I’ve read all year. I hadn’t read any cs lewis since I read screwtape letters last year and I was reminded just how amazing of a writer Lewis is.

He lays out so beautifully both the positive aspects of each of the earthly, human loves, but also describes in unnerving detail the ways in which we distort, twist and pervert these loves from what they are meant to be.

In describing the human love of affection, he writes “If affection is made the absolute sovereign of
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 …
Tiff (fictionaltiff)
Before reading The Four Loves, my perspective on love and its different meanings was but a hastily packed suitcase. A general understanding that Affection, Friendship, Romance (Eros), and Charity were all different ways to love and be loved was scattered in there, but not much beyond that. I was ready for the trip The Four Loves was going to take me on, but unaware of just how much I absolutely needed this book in my life.
C.S. Lewis took my suitcase of thoughts, unpacked them, laid them before m
A book I think should be read more widely. I
appreciated Lewis's insights.

2019 reading- Lewis felt that he didn’t know a book until he read it at least 2-3 times. I’m seeing how true this is. I barely remembered what I read from 5 years ago. This book is even more insightful this time around as I’m a different person. His views on friendship were on par for me. I have many underlinings in my book. I plan to revisit this one again—sooner than later.
Where most books on love give food for thought, THE FOUR LOVES offers a king's banquet. There is more wisdom in one page of this book than in the entirety of Erich Fromm's THE ART OF LOVING.
Love is a messy subject, so it's only natural that Lewis' analysis be a bit messy as well. And though he's incredibly methodical in shaping his ideas and presenting them with art and diplomacy, Lewis writes with such warmth and accessibility that we view him as the sagely uncle we all dearly wish we had.
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The Catholic Book...: 8. Favorite Quotes 23 28 Sep 21, 2020 02:20AM  
The Catholic Book...: 9. Other C.S. Lewis 11 26 Aug 25, 2020 11:02AM  
The Catholic Book...: 1. Along the Way 13 20 Aug 25, 2020 05:51AM  
The Catholic Book...: 6. Friendship 27 26 Aug 22, 2020 05:52AM  
The Catholic Book...: * Introduction 4 39 Aug 15, 2020 04:07PM  
The Catholic Book...: 7. Eros 4 14 Aug 13, 2020 03:35PM  

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Clive Staples Lewis 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

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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 . . .” 86498 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.” 19903 likes
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