Anna Karenina Part 3, Chapters 24-32
Levin goes to visit his friend, Sviazhsky, who lives far from the farm. He is nervous to go there because he knows Sviazhsky's wife wants to set Levin up with her sister. Levin is distracted at dinner because the sister is wearing a cleavage-revealing dress to attract his attention. That makes him uncomfortable (he does not want to think sensually about someone unless in the context of marriage).
Levin leaves the table to join the men in a talk on farming. Everyone in attendance is complaining about the serf system. Some say the serfs were better before emancipation; some say things became better after emancipation. The problem, though, is that the serfs don't feel they have enough stake in the land to work hard. Levin says this is because the serfs are poor. He proposes a communal system in which he will share all his profits equally with the peasants. Everyone, that way, would have an interest in farming and everyone's incomes would benefit. He goes home to begin working on this revolutionary project which would grant everyone full partnership in the land.
Later on, Nicholas comes to Levin at home, sicker than ever. His death is imminent. Levin grows depressed and takes comfort in the fact that maybe his work can save him from death.
"Levin said what he had genuinely been thinking of late. He saw nothing but death or the advance toward death in everything. But his cherished scheme only engrossed him all the more. Life had to be got through somehow till death did come. Darkness had fallen, upon everything for him; but just because of this darkness he felt that the one guiding clue in the darkness was his work, and he clutched it and clung to it with all his strength." Part 3, Chapter 32, pg. 372
In this way, work is life itself for Levin.