Taking as its starting point Heidegger’s discussion in Being and Time (1927) of the Latin poet Hygenius’s fable about the formation of humankind by Cura, “Care,” this article opens the philosopher’s concept of care to a dialogue with literature. If Hygenius’s fable is, in Heidegger’s terms, a “pre-ontological testimony” to Dasein’s groundedness in care, Kafka’s story “The Cares of a Family Man” (1919) and Blanchot’s novel The Most High (1948) may be called “post-ontological testimonies” of care. Both texts thematize the slipping away of the temporal horizon of care, envisioning a world in which Dasein no longer takes center stage. Through an analysis of the Heideggerian grammar of care and its resonances in Kafka and Blanchot, this article offers a new appraisal of an influential concept in twentieth-century European philosophy and literature.

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