58 of 63 people found the following review helpful
Clear sighted and big hearted,
This review is from: The Four Loves (Paperback)
A younger C S Lewis, before his own experience of love and marriage, could not have written 'The 4 Loves'. First published in 1960 this book marries Lewis' highly developed rational faculties and his passion for the revelance of theory to experienced reality. Humbly he digs at the roots of love: what's the difference between loving surfing, Monet's "haystacks", your brother, your best friend, your partner, or God? Lewis identifies archhuman patterns and causality in each of these areas and draws a distinction between loves as gift, love as need and love as appreciation.
His most valuable contribution lies beyond his classification of the hearts mechanics. Firstly, he clearly reveals some of the complexity of love; For instance he asserts, and explores too briefly, that love as gift can be love as need when we need to give. Secondly, the dynamic boundaries of the classification are traced: why deep friendship between man and woman can become "being in love", for instance. This slim volume wipes rather than scratches the surface of these movements and changes. Thirdly, the unmasking of loves pretenders preoccupies Lewis. Their resemblance commands our attention but their shortfallings are our undoing, why love without context, as a god devours its disciples. All this territory is surveyed in Lewis' familiar and convincing style of popular philosophy. Yet here he is more human and at least as clear sighted as in his other work. Although never mentioned explicitly the experience of his marriage to Joy Davidman waltzes and weeps between each line trailing the authority of love and grief understood and at rest. This book is so rich and contemporary; only on occasion, in its choice of subject matter, does it sound like a forty year old work.
My only criticism is its length. A mere 140 pages. This subject would not have been covered in three times this acreage. Its a sip, a taster, and I'm left wanting more. Less of an exhaustion; more of a door ajar with a world yet unwritten on the other side.
Whether or not you're a Christian, or an apologist The 4 Loves has much to offer. It's an ideal antidote to the rash of romanticism, pragmatism and pessimism that seems to be our current cultural climate for this most vital subject. Lewis touches all these areas, and yet rises above to claim higher, overarching truth as to our being.