(CMCSL-1) – The Four Loves audio is Lewis reading his book

This is part of an occasional series exploring questionable claims about the life or writings of C.S. Lewis.  For a list of the topics either already explored or planned to be examined you can visit the introduction to this series.    


Four Loves Not Audiobook

HThe Four Loves (4 Cassettes)ave you ever heard C.S. Lewis’ voice? In case you didn’t know there are several recordings of Lewis speaking. The most famous (and freely available) is one of his radio talks from the 1940’s. That material was adapted and became a part of the classic Mere Christianity (hear the only surviving talk from it via this link). Years later he wrote a lesser known title, The Four Loves. It is a short, but insightful exploration of the four different Greek words for love. Maybe you’ve heard him reading the book? Many people believe the recording with the same name is Lewis reading his book. However, it is not.

But, you protest, that the voice is Lewis and the topic is the same! Yes, while it IS his voice and the subject is identical, there are some important facts to know. Lewis prepared the material you hear in a script for the radio. Thus, what you hear is him reading what he prepared for those broadcast talks. This is similar to what he did for the more famous Mere Christianity. The content he wrote on the four types of love for the radio he then was later adapted for publication. However, if you happen to purchase the cassette tapes back in the 1980’s or early 1990’s then, you were led to believe it was the book “Read by the Author.” The Four Loves (2 Cassettes)As you see from the picture, the publisher presents it as if it were a book on tape. Later covers while still suggesting it is an “audiobook” clarifies things some by stating on the cover that it is “featuring the vintage BBC recordings of C.S. Lewis.” So, Lewis is reading what you hear, it is just not the complete book. While I enjoy hearing his voice I do wish an unabridged recording of the book would be made.

While the radio recordings, which came out in 1958, merely present the information on the four different Greek words for love, they were actually aired in ten parts! The book version, from 1960, added material before the content on the four types of love. It has a nine-page introduction and a chapter entitled “Likings and Loves for the Sub-Human” that are even more pages.

Plus, as you might expect, each chapter on the four types of love have more material than was given on the air. I can remember being surprised about this when I finally read the book after listening to the audio about a dozen times. While I enjoyed the insights Lewis presented in the talks, I was even more impressed by what he added in the printed version. Another interesting difference is for three of the four Greek words for love, Lewis chooses to use the English translation for them as his chapter titles in the book. He notes at the start of “Eros” (in the book) that he is exploring more than “sexual activity.”

Have you only listened to the radio version of The Four Loves? Then it’s time to get a copy of the book!


The next article is:

Lewis Had a Serious Crisis of Faith After Losing a Debate to Anscombe


Updated 5/20/2017

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2 comments

  1. Thank you for this article. I too noticed the difference between the audio recordings and the book, but what struck me most was gems from the audios that somehow didn’t end up in the book. Therefore I decided to chronicle them here: https://allacin.blogspot.com/2013/11/the-four-loves-by-cs-lewisadditional.html

    • William OFlaherty /

      Thanks for sharing your resource, Allacin. I hope others check it out to benefit from it.

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