He was standing in the cool granary, still fragrant with the leaves of the hazel branches interlaced on the freshly peeled aspen beams of the new thatch roof. He gazed through the open door in which the dry bitter dust of the thrashing whirled and played, at the grass of the thrashing floor in the sunlight and the fresh straw that had been brought in from the barn, then at the speckly-headed, white-breasted swallows that flew chirping in under the roof and, fluttering their wings, settled in the crevices of the doorway, then at the peasants bustling in the dark, dusty barn, and he thought strange thoughts.
—Anna Karenina, Part Eight, Chapter 11
In part eight, the last part of the book, Tolstoy through Levin’s eyes, takes the opportunity to reflect on belief. After hundreds of pages, Tolstoy pulls out a new trick, the environmental description which is beautifully written (and translated into English), and sets the stage for the interior monologue on morals and belief in God that Levin is about to carry forth.