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Dictionary of World Biography
a skirmish with natives. His ship was sailed back to
Spain by his second in command, Sebastian del Cano,
who then completed (1522) the first circumnavigation
of the world, which also established that the Americas
were a separate continent.
Guillemard, F. H. H., The Life of Ferdinand Magellan
and the first Circumnavigation of the Globe 1480–
1521. Repr. 1971.
Magendie, François (1783–1855). French physician.
Considered a founder of experimental physiology, he
investigated the relationship of the nervous system
with the spinal chord and the effects and uses of
strychnine, iodine, morphine and various other
drugs. He demonstrated the stomach’s passive role in
vomiting and studied emetics. He did much work on
the nerves of the skull and a canal leading from the
fourth ventricle is named after him the ‘foramen of
Magendie’. He was elected a member of the Académie
des Sciences (1821) and was its president (1837).
In 1831 he became professor of medicine at the
Collège de France.
Maginot, André (1877–1932). French politician.
As Minister of War 1922–24 and 1929–32, he
ordered the construction of the ‘Maginot line’, a
series of immense fortifications, concealed weapons,
underground storehouses and living quarters on the
Franco-German frontier. In World War II it was
outflanked by the German advance through Belgium
and its defensive strength was never put to the test.
Magritte, René François Ghislain (1898–1967).
Belgian artist. An important member of the Surrealist
movement, he trained at the Brussels Academy from
1916 and began his career as a wallpaper designer.
He became a full-time painter in 1926 and held his
first one-man exhibition 10 years later. His pictures
are realistic, even mundane, but they are put together
in composite images that are bizarre, sinister, comic
or nightmarish.
Nadeau, M., The History of Surrealism. 1965.
Magsaysay, Ramon
politician. A mechanic by trade, he became famous
for his exploits in the anti-Japanese underground
movement. Afterwards he was equally successful
against the revolutionary Communists. Secretary of
National Defence 1950–53 and President 1953–57,
he was killed in an air crash.
Mahan, Alfred Thayer (1840–1914). American naval
historian. He served in the navy (1856–96), retired as
Captain but was promoted to Rear Admiral in 1906.
His great work, The Influence of Sea Power upon History
1660–1783 (1890) proved a powerful stimulant to
political thought on this subject, its thesis based on,
and strikingly confirmed by, British imperial growth.
He also wrote a life of *Nelson (1897).
Mahathir bin Mohamad (1925– ). Malaysian
politician. Educated in Singapore, he practised
medicine, was active in the United Malay National
Organisation (UMNO) from 1964 and became
Minister for Education 1974–77, Trade and Industry
1977–81 and Prime Minister 1981–2003. He also
held other portfolios including Defence, Home
Affairs and Justice. In 1998 he sacked his deputy
*Anwar Ibrahim, whose jailing for sedition and
sodomy was seen as a political act.
Mahdi, El (= ‘the expected one’). Title used by Shi’ite
Muslims for a hidden imam who will reveal himself as
a deliverer, especially claimed by Mohammed Ahmed
ibn Abdullah (c.1841–1885), a Sudanese tribesman
who proclaimed himself in 1881 and led a revolt
against Egyptian rule. He controlled the Sudan by
1883. General *Gordon, sent to evacuate foreigners
(1884), was killed at Khartoum after a long siege.
*Wolseley arrived too late to save Gordon. Within
weeks, El Mahdi had died of typhus. The Mahdists
controlled the Sudan until their final defeat at
Omdurman (1898) by *Kitchener, who desecrated El
Mahdi’s tomb.
Holt, P. M. The Mahdist State in the Sudan. 2nd ed.
Mahfouz, Naguib (1911–2006). Egyptian novelist,
playwright and screenwriter, born in Cairo. Educated
at Cairo University, he worked in the cultural section
of the civil service 1934–71. He wrote 40 novels and
30 screenplays, some of which were banned because of
his political and social views. His novels include The
Cairo Trilogy (1956–57), Chatting on the Nile (1966)
and Miramar (1967). He was the first writer in Arabic
to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature (1988).
Mahler, Gustav (1860–1911). Austrian composer
and conductor, born in Kaliste, Bohemia. Son of
a distiller and tavern owner, he was the second of
14 children, only six of whom survived infancy.
He studied at the Vienna Conservatoire and the
University, and attended *Bruckner’s lectures (which
he sometimes denied). In 1897 he converted from
Judaism to Catholicism. Regarded as the greatest
conductor of his era, he directed the Budapest Opera
1888–91, the Hamburg Opera 1891–97, the Vienna
Court Opera 1897–1907, the Metropolitan Opera,
New York 1908–10 and the New York Philharmonic
Orchestra 1909–11. (In 1892 he had premiered
*Wagner’s Ring cycle in London.)
As a composer, he was greatly influenced by
*Beethoven, *Schubert, *Wagner, Bruckner and, later,
*Bach. He wrote 10 symphonies. Symphonies No. 1
(‘The Titan’, 1888), 5 (1902), 6 (1904), 7 (1905) and 9
(1910) are for orchestra. Nos. 2 (‘Resurrection’, 1894),
3 (1896), 4 (1900), 8 (‘Symphony of a Thousand’,
1907) include movements for solo voice, soli and
chorus, with orchestra. The unfinished Symphony
No. 10 was performed in 1964 in a version partly
reconstructed from Mahler’s notes by Deryck Cooke.