Date of this Version
Documentary Editing, Volume 14, Number 1, March 1992
ISSN 2476-1796 (electronic); ISSN 2167-1451 (print)
The once-popular "Joyous Miracle" is now a distinctly minor short story in the canon of Frank Norris. First given separate publication in England and the United States as a Christmas giftbook in 1906, it was then being recycled for its earning potential as a seasonal offering; for it had already appeared as an 1898 Christmas piece in McClure's Magazine under the title "Miracle Joyeux." Norris's contemporaries held it in high regard: for example, the New Orleans Times-Democrat found the McClure's version a "charming sketch" and praised its author for succeeding with a difficult-to-handle theme-difficult because its featured character was the son of God, and therefore a risky venture in fiction. Later, in 1909 when the California journalist Will Irwin wrote his introduction to a collection of Norris's short stories entitled The Third Circle, he ranked it with the title story and "The House with the Blinds" as among Norris's most impressive early efforts. Since 1909, however, no one has characterized it thus; nonspecialists who teach McTeague and "A Deal in Wheat" are most likely not even aware of its existence.