Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Bookshelf: The Four Loves by C.S. Lewis

A book probably more appropriate for Valentine's Day than Thanksgiving (at least in terms of reviewing date), C.S. Lewis' The Four Loves examines four aspects of love in our lifes: Affection, Friendship, Eros (love between man and woman), and Charity (the love of God). It is a tremendous accomplishment that easily ranks among my favorite works of Lewis (and I"ve read most of his stuff). With his trademark wit and bell-like clarity of writing, Lewis takes us through these four ancient categories, spending the most time on friendship, showing us the trademarks of each type and the benefits and dangers of each. All sorts of love, from the love of animals to marital relations to best friends, and finally the love of God, are covered in depth and make for wonderful reading. Anyone who has ever felt affection for anything will enjoy this book.

I know this is a much shorter review than normal, but this is such a good book that to go any farther I'd just be repeating myself. :) So I'll leave it at this. It would make great reading for teens on up. A note: The section on friendship is a bit, shall we say, 'dated' by the times--it talks about how men and women cannot really have good friendships because usually the man is more educated than the woman so they cannot share a common bond. Since I have a close-knit group of friends that are almost entirely male (with about 3 exceptions), I found this a wee bit outdated, especially in the age of co-ed college and women in the workforce. But other than that, it is still quite timely.

A piece of the text, from "Friendship":

Especially when the whole group is togetgher, each bringing out all that is best, wisest, or funniest in all the others. Those
are the golden sessions; when four or five of us after a hard day's walking have come to our inn; when our slippers are on,
our feet spread out towards the blaze and our drinks at our elbows; when the whole world, and something beyond the
world, opens itself to our minds as we talk; and no one has any claim or any responsibility for another, but all are
freemen and equals as if we had first met an hour ago, while at the same time an Affection mellowed by the years enfolds
us. Life--natural life--has no better gift to give. Who could have deserved it?

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