Love is never wasted: C. S. Lewis?

Love is never wasted, for its value does not rest upon reciprocity.

Attr. to C. S. Lewis.

The word “reciprocity” gives it a certain credibility, raising it above the level of a common meme. But that doesn’t make it authentic.

  1. A Google search turns up the usual citation-less suspects.
  2. Wikiquote doesn’t have it, even on the discussion page of disputed quotes.
  3. Searching Google Books for the entire quotation with the author restricted to C. S. Lewis returns no hits. This is pretty telling because Google Books can search everything C. S. Lewis wrote. Just to be sure, I tried searching for the word reciprocity in a few books (e.g., The Four LovesThe Weight of Glory), but it’s not there. Just for good measure, I tried searching Google Books for the whole quotation with Lewis’s name at the end. No dice. It’s still possible this is something he wrote or said that’s not in any of his books, but ….
  4. I found a much more likely source. It’s attributed in various places to Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Latter Days Saints (Mormons). Tracing that down led me to this page, where the actual quotation appears to be: “However, never underestimate the power of privately extending a simple, loving, but direct challenge. Though it may not be reciprocated, such love is never wasted.” I can see how that got lifted out of context and meme-ified, giving the quote as we have it today. How it got attributed to CSL, I couldn’t say.

Bottom line: Not findable in Lewis’s works, but a variant form found somewhere else. I’m going to call this one fake.