[note: *shamed* I started reading this in APRIL for my month of love. I finished it in September.]
The Four Loves by CS Lewis
Synopsis (from the product description): We hear often that love is patient and kind, not envious or prideful. We hear that human love is a reflection of divine love. We hear that God is love. But how do we understand its work in our lives, its perils and rewards? Here, the incomparable C. S. Lewis examines human love in four forms: affection, the most basic, general, and emotive; friendship, the most rare, least jealous, and, in being freely chosen, perhaps the most profound; eros, passionate love that can run counter to happiness and poses real danger; charity, the greatest, most spiritual, and least selfish.
Overall Impression: CS Lewis is quite his own little beast. Reading his work is difficult, but always fruitful — you just have to be willing to dig your heels in and pay attention to what you’re reading. He has a lot of wonderful insight into love in The Four Loves — affection, friendship, passion, and charity. I talked about a slightly different version of these four loves during my month of love, but Lewis gave me some other things to think about as well. I really love how he talks about each of the loves reflecting different facets of God, and the different ways we interact with the people around us. I highlighted practically half the book, but here is my favorite quote:
“There is no safe investment. 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.”
Positives: A beautiful meditation on love; one that we really don’t get in our modern culture.
Negatives: You can tell that the book was written sixty years ago — there are times when Lewis feels a little chauvinistic or old-fashioned, but it’s easy to remember that Lewis was coming at life from a different perspective than we are today.
Other books I’ve read by CS Lewis:
The Great Divorce (review)
The Horse and His Boy (review)
The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe
The Magician’s Nephew
Out of the Silent Planet (review)
Prince Caspian (review)
The Problem of Pain (review)
The Silver Chair (review)
Till We Have Faces (review)
Voyage of the Dawn Treader (review)
Other blogger opinions:
Tiger Holland: “These sorts of books haven’t just earned a place on the keeper-shelf—they’ve defined the qualities of literature I want to keep near me, the kind of things I like to have working on my mind. “
Jillian Reads Books: “This book was written in the 1960s, and some of Lewis’ views on women are questionable.”
Dream Stuff Books: “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.”