The Four Loves by C.S. Lewis


Halfway through this book, I had decided that I wasn’t going to write a review for it – mainly because my thoughts would stray from it at times because it would not always hold my interest and I didn’t think that I could do the book justice. I probably still can’t do the book justice, but I did realize that I was writing down quite a few quotes from this book, so there had to be something there!

What Lewis has done here really is a beautiful piece of work. It is a meditation on love. He discusses his “four loves”: affection (love shared between a parent and child), friendship, erotic love, and charity. He discusses these from a Christian philosophy point of view which normally might dissuade me as it may be too preachy, but I felt safe in the hands of Lewis, an author that I love. He balances his thoughts well and discusses the subject of love in a way that certainly appeals to Christians, but would not be unreadable to non-Christians.

After reading for awhile, I figured out what was making my mind wander. When it comes to philosophy and one’s views on love (especially when mixed with religion), you’re never going to agree 100% of the time. Not that my mind drifts when I disagree, in fact, most of the time, I become more interested when I disagree with something. But with this book, I found that at times Lewis was a bit long winded on topics that didn’t hold my interest. There were other times however where I thought that Lewis did a marvelous job of writing on a very personal level with an almost conversational tone.

This one’s been sitting on my shelf for about 3 years now, and thanks to the Classics Challenge, I finally got to read it. I’d like to leave you with my favorite passage from the book. This passage jumped out at me and really struck a chord with me, especially considering all that Megan and I have been through since the hurricane. Anyone who’s ever loved anyone can relate, I’m sure:

To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to 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. The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy is damnation. The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell.”

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10 Responses

  1. That’s a beautiful quote!

    And, congratulations on your 10,000th visitor!

  2. Lewis’ non-fiction is very good and very thought provoking. Kudos to you for sticking with this one and making it through.

  3. Ummmm, I think I’ll skip this one. Although you did get something out of it, which is a good thing…

  4. Heather, Thanks! I loved that quote, my favorite in the book.

    Carl, Extremely thought provoking. I have The Screwtape Letters on the list for the Classics Challenge as well but probably won’t get to that one until after RIP.

    Deslily, Yeah, I got something out of it, but I don’t know if it’s necessarily my thing either. I enjoyed it though when all was said and done!

  5. Lewis is one of the few Christian writers whose non-fiction work I can stomach. Like you said, he doesn’t get preachy; he’s not about “feel good” religion, and he’s not “fire and brimstone” either which are both things that I really avoid. And even now that I would no longer consider myself a Christian, I thoroughly enjoy Lewis’s writings. The Four Loves was one of those books that as soon as I finished, I wanted to go back and reread because I felt there was so much I missed and so much more I could get out of it.

    It’s been years since I’ve read this book, but the passage you quoted was the one that jumped out at me the most in the whole book. I had forgotten about that quote – thanks for sharing it. 🙂

  6. That’s a great quote. I think I might actually have a copy of this one, but I’m not sure. Lewis is not always very accessible, but I love his writing when I follow him – never have thought of him as preachy, in any way, but then he *was* an atheist before he became a Christian. I suppose his writing is tempered, in that way, by his own experience. The Screwtape Letters is amazing – way up there on my all-time favorites list.

  7. Bookfool, I think that’s what makes Lewis so approachable…he was an atheist before he was a Christian, so he’s not overly preachy. He has the built in empathy of a person who’s not overly religious, yet gets his points across well when writing religious philosophy…I’m looking forward to The Screwtape Letters!

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