Books: The Knowing Virgin

THAT WAS YVETTE by Bettina Knapp and Myra Chipman. 380 pages. Holt, Rinehart and Winston. $5.95.

Her decolletage was as breathcatching as the Grande Corniche, her hair was hennaed, her makeup stark white; her expressive arms were encased in black gloves to the knobby elbow, and from her thin, lacquered lips slipped a repertory of chansons more Rabelaisian, Evangelist Dwight Moody once grieved, than any "Sodom ever produced." That was French Disease Yvette Guilbert, the ex-seamstress whose reputation became as luminous and lurid as the Divine Sarah or Eleonora Duse.

As Toulouse-Lautrec's favorite model, she is still today the symbol of the gaudy...

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